QUEENS — Charges against the off-duty NYPD officer who drunkenly crashed and killed another driver on the Van Wyck have been upgraded to manslaughter, Queens prosecutors said.
Neville Smith, 32, who serves in The Bronx's 48th Precinct, was initially charged with vehicular assault, assault, driving while intoxicated and refusing a breath test after he rear-ended a Honda Accord while speeding down the Van Wyck Expressway Sunday, police said.
Charges were upgraded Wednesday, two days after the Honda's driver, Vanessa Raghubar, 22, died after the crash, which left her with internal bleeding in the brain, prosecutors said.
"Drinking and then driving is a deadly combination. The defendant — a police officer bound to enforce the law — is now accused of breaking the law and with deadly consequences," said District Attorney Richard Brown.
Raghubar was reportedly the designated driver as her sister, Maria Raghubar, celebrated her 21st birthday along with another passenger, Justin Harriharran, 20, according to prosecutors and the New York Post.
Smith sent Raghubar's Honda hurtling into a shoulder, then a light post as his own Mercedes veered into the left lane and hit a median, prosecutors said.
The younger Raghubar was sitting in the back seat, driver's side, and broke her left arm, her hip and injured her internal organs, leaving her in critical condition at Jamaica Hospital, prosecutors said.
Harriharran was also sitting in the back seat and suffered cuts to his hands and was being treated at the same hospital, officials said.
Smith, who's served the NYPD for more than five years, told officers at the scene that he was returning home after having dinner with a former co-worker of his, prosecutors said.
He appeared to be drunk, but refused to take a breathalyzer, drug or a field sobriety tests, prosecutors said.
Smith was arraigned on charges of vehicular manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide Wednesday via video conference from his hospital bed, prosecutors said. He was held on $300,000 bond, they added.