An 18-year-old West Babylon man pleaded not guilty Friday to an indictment on manslaughter and reckless driving charges after Suffolk County prosecutors said he was using a cellphone just before a fatal crash.
Authorities said Nicolas Apostolides was driving a 2015 GMC Arcadia just after 5:30 a.m. on April 16, heading north on Straight Path when he drove through a red light and crashed into a 2006 Chevrolet Impala, killing David Martinez, 63, also of West Babylon.
Prosecutors alleged he was using his cellphone at the time of the crash. Video surveillance showed Apostolides speeding through the intersection after the light had been red for several seconds, prosecutors said.
Apostolides’ attorney, Danielle Coysh, said he was a high school senior, driving to work at the time of the crash. She said his cellphone was in airplane mode, disabling connection to the phone, while he was driving.
“This accident was unquestionably tragic. However, criminal liability is not always measured by the depth of human tragedy,” Coye said. “Here, the lines between civil and criminal liability have been blurred.”
Apostolides was arraigned in Central Islip court Friday on the grand jury’s indictment where a judge placed him on supervised release and suspended his driver's license through the outcome of the trial.
“Motorists must always remain attentive to the roadways while driving. A split second of distraction can quickly turn into a deadly chain of events,” Suffolk District Attorney Raymond Tierney said in a statement. “This defendant’s alleged decision to drive fast, while operating a cellphone has caused the tragic death of Mr. Martinez, which could have been avoided.”