Cops: Teen in fatal crash drunk, speeding

Detectives inspect the Hyundai Sonata that hit trees Detectives inspect the Hyundai Sonata that hit trees and a fence before coming to rest in a wooded area near Pentmoor Drive in Mastic on Saturday. Two teens, who were ejected from the car, were killed in the early morning crash. (July 21, 2012 ) Photo Credit: James Carbone

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A teenager allegedly driving drunk in Mastic crashed early Saturday morning and his two passengers were ejected and killed, police said in announcing his arrest.

The driver, Ryan Foote, 17, lost control of the 2007 Hyundai Sonata at 1:17 a.m. as he was going south on Winters Drive near Pentmoor Drive, striking trees and a fence, police said.

Declared dead at the scene were passengers James "J.J." McClease, 18, of Mastic, and his nephew Rashawn "Chucky" Minter, 17, of Mastic Beach.

Foote, of Mastic, is being charged with driving while intoxicated. He remained hospitalized at Stony Brook University Medical Center for his injuries, including cuts and lacerations and a bruise to his chest. Police said he'd be arraigned when possible.

He appeared to have been driving too fast around a curve, police said. The car eventually came to rest in a wooded area on the property of Brookhaven Calabro Airport, Seventh Squad supervisor Det. Sgt. William Lamb said.

When police got to the scene, Foote was outside the car.

"He realized his friends were badly hurt, and he was naturally upset," Lamb said.

The teens had been on their way to a convenience store on Montauk Highway, a mile or two from the crash, Lamb said. It appears the victims were not wearing seat belts, but the car is so mangled that determining if they had belts on will not be easy, police said.

Lamb said detectives would investigate how Foote, who is underage, obtained alcohol. Police did not say whether Foote had been the only one drinking.

Foote's father owned the car, police said.

Laverne McClease -- Minter's grandmother and McClease's mother -- said that shortly before the crash she had told the teens she loved them after seeing coverage of the massacre in Colorado.

"I told them I love them because of the thing that happened in the movie theater," she said.

By turns sobbing and furious, Laverne McClease said: "They were good kids. Went to school every day. No problem. They had a lot of friends, you know? There was no reason for this to happen. What happened, they got into a car with a DWI -- a drunkard!"

Outside the Foote family's home, Steve Foote, 23, said: "My brother is a good kid."

"He worked, he went to school every day, he played basketball with the kids in the neighborhood," Steve Foote said.

Ryan Foote worked a catering job and was to enter his senior year at Eastport South Manor High School, and the three teens frequently played basketball together, the brother said.

Saturday, dozens of family members and friends gathered on the McCleases' lawn to console Laverne McClease.

"If I knew he was drunk, I would never let my kids get in the car with him," she said.

With Candice Ferrette

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