A driver who a source said was fleeing undercover Nassau police officers crashed into a vehicle on Hempstead Turnpike in East Meadow late Monday, killing the other driver.
The victim, Ming Deng, 58, of East Meadow, was pronounced dead at Nassau University Medical Center at 12:05 a.m. Tuesday -- less than a half-hour after the crash, Nassau police said.
The fleeing driver, Justin M. Daley, 28, of Hicksville, did not enter a plea to charges of second-degree manslaughter, second-degree reckless endangerment and reckless driving during his arraignment Tuesday afternoon inside his hospital room at NUMC, where he was taken after the crash and was being treated for a leg injury. Nassau District Court Judge Rhonda E. Fischer ordered Daley held without bail.
In the lobby of the hospital, Deng's family members said she worked as an EEG technician at the hospital. She was driving home after work when she was stopped at a red light and was struck from behind, they said.
A man who identified himself as Peter, the victim's husband, said his wife was a medical doctor in China before immigrating to the United States 23 years ago. "She's a great lady," he said.
Deng had two grown children and lived in Bayside, Queens, before moving to East Meadow about 11/2 years ago, said Charlie Chung, a nephew.
"She's a very good mother; she worked hard," Chung said as he hugged Deng's grief-stricken sister, Linda Deng, who sobbed.
Hours earlier, Daley's father, Michael Daley, apologized to Deng's family, saying, "My son would never do something like that intentionally . . . I want to say to the family: I'm so sorry. . . horrible, horrible, mind-blowing."
Brian Griffin, a Garden City attorney retained to represent Daley after his arraignment, said in an email that the firm's "initial investigation indicates that Mr. Daley was not knowingly fleeing from undercover police officers."
Griffin did not elaborate and said Daley and his family had "asked that we withold any further comments out of respect for the Deng family. They have also asked us to extend their sincerest condolences to the Deng family."
Daley was driving a 2003 Nissan Sentra at 11:40 p.m. east on Hempstead Turnpike "at a high rate of speed" when he rear-ended the victim's 2013 Honda, police said, sending the Honda to the southeast corner of the road. The Sentra "continued east on Hempstead Turnpike and eventually came to rest east of Conti Square Boulevard," police said.
Two officers from the department's Bureau of Special Operations were on routine patrol when they saw Daley's vehicle parked in the rear of the Coliseum Motor Inn at 1650 Hempstead Tpke., the location of past drug and prostitution arrests, the source said.
A female passenger exited the vehicle, and Daley "apparently recognizes them to be police, and he flees at a high rate of speed," the source said.
The source said the officers saw Daley run a red light, then began pursuing him.
"He blew a red light about an eighth of a mile down the street," the source said. "He blew out of there. He's gone. By the time they catch up with him, he's already involved in the auto accident."
The source emphasized the investigation into the crash was in its preliminary stages.
At his hospital arraignment, Daley's Legal Aid Society attorney, David Rosenfeld, asked for "reasonable bail" and said his client earned a bachelor's degree from Briarcliffe College and has been working at his current job as a project manager and estimator at a union painting company since 2013.
Nassau Assistant District Attorney Carolyn Abdenour requested Daley be remanded.
Michael Daley said it was "totally out of character" for his son, who served four years in the Marines, to flee police. He said he hadn't spoken with him since the accident but he surmised that Justin could have thought that the undercover officers were criminals who were trying to rob or attack him or that they were a boyfriend of the woman he was with.
"He's not stupid," said Michael Daley, 55, of Hicksville, who works as a messenger. "He was in the military. He knows not to run from the police."