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Thomas Stavola

Thomas Stavola mugshot from the DA's office

A cardiologist has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, drunk driving and leaving the scene of a Smithtown car crash, 16 months after he killed a fellow medical professional and mother of three.

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office announced on Friday that Setauket doctor Thomas Stavola, now 56, will spend two years in prison and five years on probation after last year’s crash, during which his Audi broadsided victim Monica Peterman’s Mercedes at the intersection of Routes 25 and 111. It was shortly before 4 a.m., and Peterman, 45, had been on her way to work as an X-ray technician at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center. Instead, the Middle Island resident was pronounced dead at that same hospital she had worked for more than 10 years.

District Attorney Tom Spota said previously that the doctor, who sustained minor injuries in the crash, left the scene without helping Peterman.

“Witnesses who came upon the crash scene said the defendant suddenly left and began walking west on Route 25,” Spota said in a previous statement. “What I found most troubling is the fact that a physician chose not to render any kind of aid or use his cellphone to call 911 to get some assistance for a seriously injured motorist.”

The DA said those witnesses gave police officers a description of Stavola, and a sergeant on his way to the scene spotted the man about 500 feet from the crash, walking quickly with his head down.

According to the DA’s office, Stavola had a .10 blood alcohol content 90 minutes after the fatal incident.

The impact of the collision had embedded Stavola’s front license plate into the side door of Peterman’s car.

Stavola originally pleaded not guilty to his charges. The victim’s family filed a $20 million civil lawsuit against him last year, saying they hoped it would help make punishments stricter for drunk drivers.

But Stavola changed his plea and Peterman’s family supported the two-year sentence and probation, the DA’s office said. Husband Russell Peterman said in a statement that his family wanted to let go of the anger they felt toward Stavola and realized he deserved another chance “to go back to helping people.”

A memorial area is decorated outside of the church Monica Peterman once attended. Photo from Holy Church of Christ

It has been one year without Smithtown hospital worker Monica Peterman, but her name was memorialized forever outside the church her family frequents.

Peterman, 45, was killed on June 14, 2014, in a car crash on the same route she often drove between her home in Middle Island and Smithtown’s St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center, where she worked. Her family has spent the better part of the past year in courtrooms, to learn the fate of the man accused of crashing into her — Setauket cardiologist Thomas Stavola — but took a step back this week to remember Peterman as a daughter, mother and wife.

The Peterman family gathered with members of the Holy Church of Christ congregation in Central Islip on Sunday to unveil a memorial garden and seating area outside of the church created in Peterman’s memory.

Despite the uncertainty of the ongoing court cases, the family said it was important to pay tribute to the impact Peterman had on their lives, and vice versa, on the one-year anniversary of her death.

Peterman’s children and husband spoke of the horrific memory of the day they lost their mother and wife while fighting back tears on Sunday afternoon.

“Thank you for playing a part in my wife’s life,” said Russel Peterman, Monica’s husband, in a video of the ceremony on Sunday. “Just thank you, and thank you and thank you.”

A memorial was erected outside the church with donations collected throughout the entire Holy Church of Christ community. Later this summer, a bench, complete with an etching of Monica Peterman’s name, will be added to the area.

A spokeswoman for St. Catherine said in an email that Peterman, who worked at the hospital for more than 10 years, was known as a dedicated and well-respected worker and will be greatly missed.

Stavola, 55, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated— a misdemeanor — after the June 14 crash killed the Middle Island native and mother of three, the Suffolk County Police Department said. He pleaded not guilty to the second-degree manslaughter charge, which was upgraded from the original driving while intoxicated charge, as Peterman’s family looked on. He was released on continuation of the $250,000 bond he posted last month, District Attorney Tom Spota said.

Peterman’s family filed a $20 million civil suit against Stavola last summer, with hopes of sending the greater message that driving while intoxicated should warrant strict penalties, according to  Barbara Sims, Peterman’s mother. Family members and friends memorialized the Middle Island mother back in October with a commemorative plaque placed inside the hospital, where she worked for more than a decade.

Stavola’s next court appearance was scheduled for June 26 at 9 a.m. His attorney did not return requests seeking comment.

Spota said the impact of the collision embedded the front license plate of Stavola’s 2013 Audi into Peterman’s 2009 Mercedes side door. His blood, which officers drew 90 minutes after the crash, had a blood alcohol level of .10, Spota said.

Witnesses then helped give officers a description of Stavola, who called for help over the air to nearby patrols. A police sergeant on his way to the crash scene spotted Stavola walking briskly, with his head down, nearly 500 feet away from the crash, the district attorney said. Stavola, a doctor with Stony Brook Community Medical’s North Suffolk Cardiology, was treated at Stony Brook Hospital for minor injuries.