Two teenage boys are dead and two more are in the hospital after a gruesome late-night crash that was allegedly caused by an intoxicated wrong-way driver on Long Island.
The accident happened on North Broadway in Jericho just before 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. Nassau County police said Amandeep Singh, 34, was driving southbound in the northbound lanes in a Dodge Ram when he struck the Alfa Romeo sedan carrying the four teens.
Two boys, Drew Hassenbein and Ethan Falkowitz, both 14, were in the back seat and died at the scene. The other boys, 16 and 17, were hospitalized with internal injuries and are said to be recovering. The principal of Roslyn Middle School sent a note to parents Thursday morning confirming the two deceased boys were students there and that grief counseling will be made available as students try to understand the loss.
Hassenbein was a nationally ranked and highly touted tennis player, who starred on the local high school’s varsity team despite only being in middle school. Falkowitz was a star of that varsity team as well. The four boys in the car were apparently headed home after a dinner to celebrate victory in a tennis competition.
“They had the brightest future ahead of them,” Dianna Disanti, a friend, said, adding that “they were the kindest people ever.”
Meanwhile, Jay Harris, tennis coach for Hassenbein and Falkowitz, called the two young boys “amazing guys” and “best friends” who started playing tennis when they were merely 5 years old until becoming part of the varsity team as eighth graders.
After being hit by the pickup truck, the boys’ car then hit another vehicle carrying a woman, 49, and a 16-year-old boy. They were treated and released.
According to to prosecutors, Singh was driving drunk when the crash occurred and tried to run from the scene. He is facing charges of aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular manslaughter, DWI and assault. Singh said nothing to reporters as he was led out of Nassau County Police headquarters.
Grieving friends, family and members of the Roslyn community packed Nassau Criminal Court on Thursday where Singh faced the judge. Prosecutors alleged that Singh fled the scene of the accident and was found hiding in a nearby parking lot, only to subsequently claim he hadn’t been driving the vehicle.
Prosecutors say Singh blew a 0.18 on his breathalyzer test, double the legal limit. The judge hearing the arraignment did not grant bail and ordered Singh remanded to custody.
When prosecutors told the judge that Singh had a prior DWI before the tragic events Wednesday night, a collective gasp was heard in the courtroom.
Singh’s attorney told the judge that his client is married, has young children and a network of support from family. His next court appearance is scheduled for May 8.