Town of Ulster Police Officer Travis Nissen was drunk in car crash that claimed his life, state police say
An off-duty town of Ulster police officer was drunk in the December car crash that claimed his life, state police said on Sunday.
Travis Nissen, 27, had a blood-alcohol content of 0.18 percent, which is more than twice the state’s legal limit, police said, citing the results of toxicology tests. The threshold for driving while intoxicated in New York is 0.08 percent.
For the average-size man, a BAC of 0.18 requires the consumption of about nine alcoholic beverages in an hour, or a greater number of drinks spread over a longer time span.
Nissen, who was a school resource officer at M. Clifford Miller Middle School in Lake Katrine, died at Kingston Hospital from injuries he suffered when his car went off state Route 28 westbound near Dubois Road in the town of Olive on Dec. 9, 2011, and struck a utility pole.
Police said at the time that Nissen was on his way home to Shokan after having dinner with relatives in the Kingston area when the accident occurred. They have not said whether the dinner was in a restaurant or private home.
Nissen was alone in the car, a 2001 Buick, and was wearing a seat belt when the crash occurred about 10:30 p.m., police said at the time. He was pronounced dead at 11:41 p.m.
State police, in a prepared statement about the accident on Sunday, said Nissen’s blood-alochol content “along with fatigue and/or driver inattention were contributing factors in his failure to maintain control of his vehicle in its designated driving lane and failure to negotiate the curve.”
Town of Ulster Police Chief Matthew Taggard said on Sunday that Nissen was human and made a mistake.
“He paid for that mistake with his life,” Taggard said. “It’s sad, but as police officers, we are responsible for our actions.
“But,” Taggard added, “in the context of Travis’ entire life, it’s rare a day goes by that I don’t hear how he impacted someone’s life in a positive way.” Continued...
Taggard also said it was “totally out of character” for Nissen to be intoxicated.
Nissen joined the town of Ulster Police Department in 2006, became a full-time officer in 2007 and was assigned in October 2008 to be the school resource officer at Miller.
Commenting on Nissen’s role as a school resource officer, Taggard said in December that “anybody who watched Travis interact with the kids at school could see they saw him as a friend, but also regarded him with great respect. You could also see his love for the kids.”
Nissen formerly worked for the Shandaken Police Department. He was a 2002 graduate of Onteora High School and a 2005 graduate of Ulster County Community College.
Nissen’s wife, Kristy, is a special education teacher at Miller Middle School. They were married just four months before Nissen died.
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