A promising young student from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was killed yesterday in Brooklyn after an off-duty police officer crashed into him and his group of friends. The officer, 28-year-old Nicholas Batka, was allegedly driving drunk down the streets of Williamsburg around 3:00 a.m. when he lost control of his SUV and fatally struck the 21-year-old student while he was walking with his friends down the sidewalk.
The young man’s name was Andrew Esquivel. He was 21-years-old and just one year away from graduation at MIT. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Esquivel found himself in New York City starting an internship at the mobile marketing firm Appboy.
“He was the greatest kid in the world,” said Scott Weidemier, who was Esquivel’s wrestling coach in high school. “He was just an outstanding person. He went out of his way to help people. He was involved in community service. He was an all-American boy.”
Three other pedestrians in the group Esquivel was walking with were also injured badly. They were left with severe head and body trauma as a result of the collision. The injuries were particularly severe in the victims’ legs, with one being put in critical condition.
The officer involved in the accident, Batka, was apparently well-known among his friends and colleagues for his excessive drinking habits. He has posted many photos on his Facebook page, for instance, boasting about his ability to consume large amounts of alcohol in a single sitting. One former co-worker characterized him simply as a “nice guy who loves to drink.”
His drinking habits, however, have landed him in deep trouble with the law following the Williamsburg accident. Batka now faces serious charges of manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, assault, driving while intoxicated, driving while ability impaired, and driving on a sidewalk. He has also been suspended from the police force.
Witnesses at the scene claim that Batka slipped into the passenger seat and tried to flee the scene after the crash. Other pedestrians, however, prevented him from doing so. He was reportedly due for work only 4 hours later, at 7 a.m.
The New York Post reports that Batka, although heavily intoxicated, was apparently not too drunk to realize the immensity of what had happened. “Did I kill anybody?” he asked some of his fellow cops after they arrived on the scene.
One witness, Kate Hanley, described what she saw thusly:
‘When they brought him out, he was conscious but like someone that was blackout drunk. Four people had to get him out of the car.’
‘I heard people screaming and saw people lying all over the place. Just covered in blood and really badly injured. Someone in front of my stoop had a bone sticking out of his leg. People were screaming.’
Batka had formerly worked at the Transit Bureau Manhattan Task Force as a correction officer. He has posted a $300,000 bail bond and has since been released. He is due back to court on July 21.
Featured image via Facebook.