The 21-year-old man fatally struck by an allegedly drunk off-duty cop in Brooklyn early Saturday morning was identified as Andrew Esquivel. He was headed into his senior year at MIT and was interning in NYC this summer.
"He was the greatest kid in the world," his high school wrestling coach Scott Weidemier told the Daily News. "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."
Esquivel and his friends were walking on Bedford Avenue around 3 a.m. when police officer Nicholas Batka, 28, who had been spotted speeding and swerving, jumped the curb and slammed his SUV into the group. Batka, who was due to report for work at 7 a.m., allegedly moved from the driver's seat to the passenger seat, and bystanders prevented him from escaping the Dodge Durango.
Witnesses say a male victim was impaled at the scene. Esquivel died at Bellevue Hospital. Three others were also injured: a 20-year-old woman; a 23-year-old woman who broke both her legs; and a 24-year-old man, James Balchunas.
Balchunas's father told the Post that his son and his friends had gotten out of the L train stop blocks before, "They never saw him coming. I know the police were asking [my son] if he saw headlights or something, and he said he just didn’t see anything."
He added that his son, who had recently started working for Google, would have to undergo "'multiple surgeries' to repair his mangled right leg and a shattered wrist."
Nicholas Batka (Facebook)
, "Batka...had been drinking with other cops at a nearby bar, according to sources, who said he had a bar receipt in his pocket... Batka refused to take a Breathalyzer, but a blood sample was obtained when he was brought to Weill Cornell for an examination."
Esquivel was attending MIT on a full scholarship from the James Family Foundation (he was also accepted at Princeton, Cornell and Stanford). He found out about his scholarship the same day he made Eagle Scout, "I was pretty excited, happy. It was a good day." He told the Healdsburg Tribune he would study Computer Science, "I took AP Computer Science here at the high school and Advanced Projects and I went to a summer program (Summer Science) that had a lot of programming so I know I enjoy it." Esquivel also continued with his wrestling at MIT.
Batka, who joined the NYPD last year, was charged with manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, assault, driving while intoxicated, driving while ability impaired and driving on a sidewalk. He posted $300,000 bail and was released.