Suffolk County Police Officer Timothy Thrane forgives drunk driver who nearly killed him

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. — There was an unexpected twist Monday during the sentencing of a drunk driver who caused a crash that nearly killed a police officer on Long Island. 

Inside the hushed courtroom in Riverhead, Suffolk County Police Officer Timothy Thrane, who spent weeks in a coma, forgave the driver who hit him, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.

As a result, the driver will serve less time behind bars. 

“I hold no animosity towards him,” said Thrane, a husband and father of three. 

Thrane, who was given the last rites after being hit in a chain reaction crash while on duty, offered compassion to the drunk driver who accepted responsibility.

“I realize it was a mistake, but it’s a mistake that can’t be made again,” Thrane said. 

Instead of spending years behind bars following his guilty plea, 38-year-old William Petersohn of Mastic received a sentence of six months in jail and five years probation because of Officer Thrane’s forgiveness. 

“My words can’t properly convey how sorry I am for this,” Petersohn said. 

“I understand that you simply made a poor decision that night,” Thrane said. “I know it was not your intention to hurt me, but that was the result. I realize how lucky I am to be alive and I hope you realize the same.” 

Thrane was directing traffic and laying road flares in Yaphank last November when his life changed. 

“I’ll start from the head down because it’s a long list,” Thrane said. “I fractured the skull and I had a cerebral hematoma.”

An artery ripped, filling blood into his brain. All the ligaments in his neck were torn open. Shoulder, arms, hands and knees – broken. He was in a coma for a month. 

“I want to get back to myself. I want to be a cop again,” Thrane said. “I want to be the husband and father I was. Since I woke up from the coma, I feel I still have that drive.”

The judge and Thrane’s colleagues commended his bravery, his seemingly miraculous rehabilitation and his ability to forgive. 

“I know Petersohn is remorseful and I know it wasn’t on purpose. But just to get that closure,” said Janelle Thrane, his wife. 

The Thranes hope Petersohn gets the help he needs in jail. 

“I realize how precious life is, so I am going to make the best out of mine. I sincerely hope you do the same,” Thrane said. 

Thrane has months of rehab ahead, but he can’t wait to get back to the job he loves. 

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