DA: Sayville fatal car crash is murder
A Patchogue man who was high on drugs when he drove at speeds of up to 100 mph through downtown Sayville and killed a West Islip man has been indicted on murder and related charges, Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota said Thursday.
Spota sought the unusual murder charge because, he said, the man, Thomas Herman, 46, showed little regard for other people's lives when he got behind the wheel of an SUV on Jan. 13 after ingesting oxycodone, morphine and Xanax, and smoking a cigarette laced with PCP.
Then, Herman crashed into five cars before his Chevrolet TrailBlazer plowed head-on into a vehicle driven by Sam Longo, 82, killing him and injuring his passenger and companion, Agnes Gilbert, 80, of Oakdale.
"When you hit one, two, three, four, five cars beforehand, you're going 80 to 100 mph, you're on the wrong side of the road, you just don't care," Spota said. "It's murder. It sure is."
This marks the second time Spota had sought murder charges in a fatal car crash. In summer of 2012, Michael Grasing, 31, of Babylon, was indicted on murder and other charges for allegedly driving drunk when he sped through three red lights in Lindenhurst and plowed into a car driven by Brittney Walsh, 18, killing her. Grasing has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
Herman is to be arraigned Friday in First District Court in Central Islip on a 24-count indictment, charging him with, among other things, second-degree murder, aggravated vehicular homicide.
Herman, who was arrested on the day of the fatal crash and was hospitalized, is being held at the Riverhead jail. His attorney, William Keahon of Hauppauge, could not be reached Thursday.
On the day of the crash, Longo and Gilbert were driving east on Montauk Highway, heading to a CVS store in Sayville, Spota said. Herman, who lived alone, had driven to Bellport to buy two PCP-laced cigarettes, he said. He smoked one and was heading to buy cereal when he ended up on Montauk Highway in Sayville.
Longo and Gilbert were seconds from the CVS store, Spota said, when Herman's SUV slammed head-on into Longo's car at about 5:15 p.m., killing Longo instantly.
Gilbert, who suffered 12 fractured ribs, a fractured hip and femur, is recovering at home, prosecutors said. Spota said Gilbert is expected to testify at Herman's trial.
"She was actually given the last rites," Spota said. "They never thought that she'd live."
When detectives questioned Herman, his chief concern was the score of an NFL playoff game. "He wanted to know what the score of the second football game was," Spota said, referring to the AFC divisional playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Houston Texans. "That's what he was concerned about. And, later, when the game was over, he asked again what was the result of the game."