A 24-year-old Ossining man has been charged in the killing of a young Nassau County couple after running down their motorcycle on Interstate 87, said State Police.
Luis Munoz was arrested by Woodbury police shortly after the crash at 1:10 a.m. Sunday when he struck the motorcycle being driven by Rafaelito DeJesus, 23, of Valley Stream, with Melissa Rupa, 25, of Mineola, on the motorcycle with him.
The couple, who were driving north on their way to visit family in the Hudson Valley, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Munoz fled the crash near Exit 16 in the Town of Woodbury, police said.
But a worker from the Orange County Medical Examiner's office who had just returned from the crash site noticed a car driving erratically. He called Woodbury police who found Munoz driving his car minus the front bumper and license plate that were ripped off when he allegedly struck the motorcycle.
Munoz was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, a felony, and driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor.
On Sunday, at the Valley Stream home DeJesus shared with his uncle and grandmother, dozens of relatives and friends wept and remembered him as a hardworking security guard who was saving money to help bring his father to the United States from the Dominican Republic.
An uncle, Danny Castillo, 33, said he last spoke to DeJesus when he arrived home at 10 p.m. Saturday from his job as a security guard at an upscale Manhattan store.
"He told me he was going to go upstate," Castillo said. "I told him to be careful and that it wasn't a good idea because it was dark, but he laughed and he said, 'It will be OK.' "
DeJesus was born and raised in Valley Stream, and studied criminal justice at Nassau Community College, his family said. He had worked as a host at the International House of Pancakes in Valley Stream and was eventually promoted to manager as he paid his way through school.
He later landed a job as a security guard, and his family said he was trying to earn his certification to become an armed guard.
"He was highly motivated to be successful," said Castillo's girlfriend, Sandra Custodio, 27.
Relatives said DeJesus had owned a Honda Civic but traded it in to buy the motorcycle, which he was always fixing and sprucing up.
They said he and Rupa were friends on their way to visit Rupa's family in the Hudson Valley. The investigation is ongoing.
Munoz faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. He was arraigned in Town of Woodbury Court and sent to Orange County Jail in lieu of $250,000 cash bail.
With Laura Figueroa and Nicole Fuller