A Mastic Beach man who prosecutors said drove his minivan into two men on a dirt bike, killing them, pleaded not guilty Friday as the mother of one victim yelled in anguish in the Central Islip courtroom.
Christopher Bouchard, 27, pleaded not guilty to a single count of reckless endangerment, a felony, but Assistant District Attorney Raymond Varuolo said his office would seek higher charges from a grand jury. Judge Jennifer Henry ordered him held on bail of $200,000 cash or $400,000 bond.
The crash on Montauk Highway in North Bellport killed the motorcycle’s driver, Keenen King, 19, of Shirley and his passenger, Anthony Holmes-Garriques, 20, of North Bellport. As the arraignment concluded, Holmes-Garriques’ mother, Lina Garriques, shouted in anger and grief in the courtroom.
“Murderers! Murderers!” she yelled, referring to Bouchard and his brother, who had been in the van with him. “They murdered my son!”
The bike the two men were riding probably was stolen earlier in the day from Bouchard’s brother, Brian Bouchard, 31, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said Thursday. Brian Bouchard was a passenger in the Honda Odyssey minivan at the time of the crash but was not arrested, police said. Sini said police believed the dirt bike King and Holmes-Garriques were on was Bouchard’s, but it was unclear whether they were the ones who stole it.
Varuolo described the incident in court. “The defendant sped up [and] when the motorcycle slowed down, they turned to look at the minivan,” he said. “The minivan at a high rate of speed then crossed two lanes, a center turning lane and into the oncoming traffic lane, where it struck the rear of the motorcycle, causing the two gentlemen to fly off the motorcycle.”
Witnesses told Newsday the minivan appeared to target the dirt bike, but Sini said that was still under investigation.
Court papers say that Christopher Bouchard made “oral admissions” to police but they do not describe what he said.
Defense attorney John Halverson of Patchogue noted that Bouchard was not charged now with any intentional act.
“He was charged with reckless endangerment, which is not an intentional crime,” Halverson said. “And I can tell you after speaking with my client, there was no intent to hurt anybody.”
King died at the scene, police said. Holmes-Garriques died later at Stony Brook University Hospital, after he was first taken to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue.
King, a senior at William Floyd High School, was scheduled to graduate in August. School officials said they had invited his parents to graduation Sunday to receive his diploma.
Prosecutors said Brian Bouchard called police about 7 a.m. Thursday to report his dirt bike had been stolen from his home in Mastic Beach. Later in the day, a friend called the Bouchards and said he had spotted the stolen motorcycle in Bellport, the prosecutor said. That is when Bouchard and his brother got into the van and drove into Bellport to look for it, the prosecutor said.
Sini said Christopher Bouchard was trying to load the damaged dirt bike into the van after the crash, while King and Holmes-Garriques lay dead and dying in the street. Witnesses blocked the minivan until police arrived.
Emotions also ran high at a vigil for Holmes-Garriques on Friday evening near where the dirt bike was struck, at the corner of Montauk Highway and Doane Avenue. His mother was among those at the vigil, attended by more than 120 people.
At its peak, the crowd spilled over onto Montauk Highway, stalling traffic. Balloons reading “RIP Anthony We Love You” and “I Love You” hung from a telephone pole where the bike was struck.
Before the arraignment, Lina Garriques said she struggled to understand why her son, a graduate of Bellport High School who had “never been in trouble,” was killed for sitting on the back of a motorcycle.
“He’s a good kid,” she said. “I’ve got to bury my son for a dirt bike?”
With Deon J. Hampton