North Amityville family describes car crashing into home

Cesar Campos works to board up a window

Cesar Campos works to board up a window that was broken after a car slammed into his house in North Amityville. (Jan. 6, 2013) (Credit: Ed Betz)

Kenia Campos was sitting with her husband and 7-year-old son on a leather sofa, watching television and debating what to cook for her child, when a car slammed into their North Amityville home.

"When the car crashed, it moved the couch" across the room, said Campos, 38.

When her husband, Cesar Campos, 38, went to investigate, he saw two young men in the car, with its left front smashed into the side of the house.

"When I saw it, I thought both guys were dead," he said.

Roger Castro, 20, of North Amityville, had been driving a 1997 Pontiac Bonneville south on Great Neck Road about 8:35 p.m. Saturday when the car went out of control, crashed into the corner of an unoccupied house and then hit the Campos' house next door, police said.

Castro was pronounced dead at the scene; his passenger, Edwin Cruz, 15, also of North Amityville, was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital in serious condition, police said.

Kenia Campos recalled that her first thought after the crash was of her daughter, age 17, who was expected home. "I'm crying, crying, crying, looking for my daughter," she said.

It turned out her daughter had not yet returned and her son and other daughter, who is 12, were not injured. Campos was treated at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip.

The impact from the crash broke the house's large side window and two smaller front windows, shattering glass on the family. The crash also destroyed a picket fence, took out some siding and cracked a wall.

"You never think this will happen to you," Cesar Campos said. "You think you're safe in your house."

Next-door neighbor Reyna Fuentes, 33, said she ran outside after hearing a loud boom.

She said another neighbor asked Cruz if he was OK and Cruz turned the light of his phone on but didn't speak.

A corner chunk of the unoccupied home was smashed open, creating a hole wide enough for someone on the front lawn to see the interior hardwood floors.

Town of Babylon officials said the Campos residence was safe enough to be occupied after inspecting it Saturday night, Kenia Campos said.

Still, she couldn't sleep.

"I am sad for the other family," she said. "My house, I have insurance. But the driver isn't coming back."

Campos' teenage daughter said she recognized Castro, who was in her science class at Walter G. O'Connell Copiague High.

A few miles away, friends and neighbors mourned Castro and hoped for Cruz to recover.

"Roger is a good guy. He's a worker. He attends . . . the church," said neighbor Paul Hernandez, 43. "I was very sad. We never expect anything like that."

Jocelyn Interiano, 18, a neighbor who described herself as Castro's girlfriend, said Castro and Cruz were inseparable friends -- so much so that Castro rented the basement of the home Cruz shared with his parents, moving in about five months ago.

Interiano said Castro worked in demolition for a construction company and had a 2-year-old son from a previous relationship. She said she and Castro had reconciled Friday.

Interiano said she was told that Cruz and Castro were playing video games before the accident. She heard of the crash and Castro's death via Facebook.

"I couldn't believe it. My heart was pounding. My whole body was shivering," she said in tears. "I still can't believe it."

Interiano said Cruz and Castro knew each other for more than five years and went to church and played soccer together.

She described Cruz as "funny" and said that Castro "was always happy, no matter what was happening. . . . [He] always had a smile on his face."

Both Interiano and Hernandez said that they had heard from Cruz's family that Cruz had undergone brain surgery.

Attempts to reach Cruz's family were unsuccessful Sunday. Suffolk police asked anyone with information about the case to call the First Squad at 631-854-8152.

With Tania Lopez

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