Off-Duty NYPD Officer among 4 Killed in Alleged Drunk Driver's Salon Crash

July 1, 2024
"He was drunk midafternoon …, and I hope he rots in hell," said the mother-in-law of NYPD Det. Emilia Rennhack, who was killed when an alleged drunken driver plowed into a Long Island nail salon.

By Emma Seiwell and John Annese

Source New York Daily News

The accused drunken driver who killed NYPD Officer Emilia Rennhack and three others at a Long Island nail salon should “rot in hell,” the officer’s mother-in-law told the Daily News.

“He was drunk midafternoon, 64 years old, drunk and I hope he rots in hell,” said Holly Rennhack, whose NYPD detective son was married to Rennhack. “He took four people’s lives away. He’s destroyed four families, and there’s many people injured. He’s just ruined so many lives.”

Rennhack, who was off-duty, was getting her nails done for an upcoming wedding when Steven Schwally plowed his 2020 Chevy Traverse through the front window of the salon about 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Suffolk County police said.

Two other women, Yan Xu, 41, and Meizi Zhang, 50, both from Flushing, Queens, and a man, Jiancai Chen, 37, of Bayside, Queens, died in the crash. Nine more people, including a 12-year-old girl, also suffered injuries.

Schwally, who was hospitalized, survived the crash and was initially charged with driving while intoxicated. The Dix Hills, L.I.,  resident was speeding through the parking lot before he slammed into the store and was semiconscious when his SUV finally came to a stop at the rear of the salon, cops and fire officials said.

He awaits arraignment, and a spokeswoman for Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney said as a rule her office doesn’t publicly speculate on whether suspects could face upgraded or additional charges.

Rennhack joined the NYPD in 2018 and married Detective Carl Rennhack less than a year ago. The couple lived in Deer Park, not far from where she died.

“She was wonderful,” Holly Rennhack said. “I couldn’t say anything but what a wonderful, truly kind, caring [person she was]. She joined the police force to help people.”

Rennhack, who was one of three siblings, grew up on a farm in Poland and came to the U.S. to make a better life, her mother-in-law said. Her parents live in Queens.

“She was a hardworking girl, very smart, very pretty. Extremely pretty. Just a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, caring person. I couldn’t say enough about her. … She lives in my house. I lived with her. We’re truly heartbroken. We’re truly, truly heartbroken.”

In her six years as a police officer, Rennhack made a remarkable 68 felony arrests and 95 misdemeanor arrests. She also met the love of her life, dating Carl for nearly three years before they tied the knot in September at Giorgio’s of Baiting Hollow, also in Suffolk County.

The two worked together at the 102nd Precinct in Richmond Hill, Queens, her mother-in-law said.

“He’s dealing with it but he’s devastated. Totally devastated. They were only married last September,” Holly Rennhack said of her son.

“She was a very, very hardworking girl. I think she did have a lot of arrests. I think she was Cop of the Month not long ago and honored for that. I think more than once maybe,” the heartbroken mother-in-law said. “She’s going to be sorely missed. Sorely, sorely missed. People always say what a great person, but she truly, truly was. I felt so lucky to have her as a daughter-in-law.”


©2024 New York Daily News.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Sponsored Recommendations

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Officer, create an account today!