The family of Robert Treimanis, the 19-year-old killed in a head-on crash with a landscaping truck in East Meadow, remembered him Tuesday as a skilled car mechanic and photography enthusiast who was returning home from picking up a car part when tragedy struck.
Treimanis, a passenger, was killed in the crash Monday afternoon alongside his friend Stephen Clark, 20, who was driving, police said. Both were from East Meadow.
The pair were traveling in a 2000 Honda Accord, westbound on North Jerusalem Road, when the car crossed into the eastbound lanes, striking the Mitsubishi truck -- which was towing a trailer -- head-on, police said.
Both were pronounced dead at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow. Three people in the landscaping truck had minor injuries, police said.
Treimanis' older sister, Christine Treimanis, said her brother, who frequently bought cars for a couple hundred dollars, fixed them and resold them for a profit, went with his friend to buy a car part for a vehicle he was working on when the crash occurred.
"That was his life -- cars," Christine Treimanis, 25, of Orlando, Florida, said. Treimanis' mother was arranging her son's funeral Tuesday and was not available to comment, the family said. His father was also not available.
At the crash site Tuesday, friends of both Treimanis and Clark left flowers and candles in honor of the two young men.
Briyenna Souter, 19, of East Meadow, said Clark had graduated from East Meadow High School and was attending Nassau Community College. "He was one of the greatest kids ever -- very outgoing," she said.
Danielle Leboter said she grew up with Clark, and he was always joking around and laughing. "He was basically class clown."
Treimanis' aunt, Laila Treimanis, 44, of Queens, said, "Stephen wanted to learn mechanics and Rob was showing him the ropes."
She said police told the family that Clark was speeding at the time of the crash. She said the family bears no anger.
Nassau police Tuesday did not respond to a message seeking comment. A man who answered the door at Clark's home said the family did not want to comment.
Robert Treimanis graduated in 2013 from West Hempstead High School and had taken BOCES classes, where he learned car mechanics and photography, his family said.
Treimanis lived the past few years with his grandmother, Inge Treimanis, 78, who called her grandson "a car guy. . . . That was his glory."
Before he even turned 16, he bought a 1986 Mustang -- he nicknamed the car Emma -- and worked on it intensively, putting in a new engine, transmission and fuel tank, his family said.
Chris McLoughlin, 18, who had known Treimanis since fifth grade, said he sold Emma and later regretted it but was able to track it down in Poughkeepsie.
"He called me at like 2 a.m. and he said: 'I think I found Emma,' " said McLoughlin. He drove his friend the next day to buy back the car.
When he first saw the car again, McLoughlin said, "He lit up. He was so happy."
Emma was parked in his grandmother's driveway Tuesday. Friends have vowed to fix it in his memory.