NYPD officer, 30, getting nails done for a wedding killed in deadly LI salon crash — driver charged with DWI (2024)

A recently married NYPD officer was among four people killed Friday when an allegedly drunken driver smashed his minivan into a Long Island nail salon, officials and sources said.

Police Officer Emilia Rennhack, 30, had stopped at the salon to get her nails done for the wedding of another cop later that night, when authorities said Steven Schwally of Dix Hills careened his car into the storefront, trapping people inside.

Schwally was allegedly driving aggressively and yelling at people from his car before the crash, according to a source.




A 12-year-old girl was among those injured, said officials, who have not publicly identified the victims.

Nine others were also hurt.

Rennhack, a six-year NYPD veteran, was herself a bride in September, marrying fellow officer Det. Carl Rennhack.

The pair met on the job, according to a source.

“He’s in bad shape,” a police source said of the grieving spouse. “His wife was his life.”

Photos posted to social media show a glowing Rennhack in a white bridal gown and veil, beaming as her groom holds her close.


The doomed officer’s mother-in-law was in tears after Emilia’s death.

“My daughter-in-law was a wonderful woman,” Holy Rennhack told The Post.

“She was beautiful. She was very kind. She was very compassionate. She was very special.

“I was very, very close to her,” she said, before adding that her son was “very distraught right now.”


Video from the scene of the crash shows the devastation inside the salon, where pieces of the ceiling collapsed, shattered glass lay everywhere and pedicure chairs were left askew.

The Police Benevolent Association posted about Rennhack on Facebook, calling her death a “tragic loss.”

“Please join us in praying for her family, friends and coworkers,” the PBA wrote.

The Det. Simonsen Foundation, created after the shooting of NYPD Det. Brian Simonsen at a Queens phone store, also posted online about Rennhawk’s death, noting the couple “were part of our family.”

“The Simonsen Foundation is beyond devastated to learn about the tragic passing of Emilia Rennhack,” the post reads.

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“You could always see them at our events and they always honored Brian. We will miss Emilia and we will NEVER forget her. To Carl, we love you beyond measure and we are her for you forever.”

Schwally, who was arrested and is facing drunken driving charges, was brought to Good Samaritan Hospital for treatment and was still hospitalized Saturday. Charges are expected to be upgraded, officials said.

Seven women, one man and the girl were taken to various hospitals after the incident, and at least two victims had serious injuries.

A woman who said she knew Schwally but hadn’t seen him in over a decade had an emotional message for the victims.


“I unfortunately know of the driver and I am ashamed and disgusted and I am so sorry to these people. My heart goes out to these people and that’s all I’m gonna say. My prayers and my thoughts are with every single family member and every single victim that was killed,” said Rosemary Pelle, who denied being related to the accused.

Suffolk County Police said Schwally had been speeding through the parking lot of the strip mall in Deer Park when he drove his 2020 Chevy Traverse through the front window of theHawaii Nail & Spaaround 4:30 p.m. on Grand Boulevard.

It’s not Schwally’s first DWI, according to sources and a report. Schwally pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in April 2014 and had his license suspended, Newsday said.


Schwally’s brother, Edward, said his brother had more than one prior DUI.

He remembered driving his brother to probation in Hauppauge on Long Island, after he refused to take a Breathalyzer test back in 2010 or 2011.

“It’s like my worst nightmare come true,” the brother told The Post of thefatal crash.

“I feel terrible about innocent people getting hurt.”

He also contended his brother had a habit of “bad mouthing everyone.”


“He could be vicious at times,” he said. ‘I mean I feel terrible for him that it ended up happening. There’s nothing I can really do for him. It’s out of everybody’s hands. It’s in the hands of the courts. He is not going to see the light of day. He’s finished. There is no way to get out of that.“

David Caburis, 41, of Whitestone, Queens, used to hang out with Schwally back in the day, but was unaware his old pal was busted for the deadly DWI crash.

“He was a normal person,” Caburis said.

“I never knew him to drink and drive.”

The deli manager of a nearby Stop & Shop, who identified himself as Bobby, said he heard a woman screaming at the driver after she was nearly struck in the parking lot.

Ten seconds later, the car slammed into the nail salon.

“He was flying,” said the manager.

Additional reporting by Larry Celona and Claire Samstag

NYPD officer, 30, getting nails done for a wedding killed in deadly LI salon crash — driver charged with DWI (2024)
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