A man in a stolen vehicle who got into a high-speed police chase that ended in a fatal crash in Holtsville last year pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide and other charges, Suffolk County District Ray Tierney said on Wednesday.
Robert Hengeveld, 51, who was homeless at the time of the arrest, indicated that he had smoked crack cocaine before the fatal accident, which also seriously injured a passenger in his car, Tierney said.
“This defendant’s reckless actions caused the tragic death of a teenager. Not only was he in possession of a stolen truck but he also engaged the police in a high-speed chase through Suffolk County while high on drugs and endangered countless other motorists in the process,” said Tierney. “While this plea cannot bring back the victim, it does hold the defendant responsible for his actions and protects Suffolk’s citizens from further reckless acts by this defendant.”
According to court documents and the defendant’s own statements, Hengeveld sped away in a stolen 2004 Toyota Tacoma from a traffic stop by Suffolk police at about 11:42 p.m., on Oct. 19, 2021. Hengeveld drove at high speeds through multiple red lights and crossed over double yellow lines during the 11-minute chase, Tierney said. The vehicle Hengeveld was driving was reported stolen and the license plate that was affixed to the vehicle was also reported stolen.
The chase ended after Hengeveld ran through a red light at the intersection of County Road 83 and the Long Island Expressway South Service Road and crashed into a 1999 Honda Civic driven by Starlin Diaz Felipe, 19, of Medford. Felipe was killed instantly.
A passenger in the Toyota Tacoma was ejected from the vehicle and suffered a brain bleed and a broken jaw. Hengeveld later indicated he had smoked crack cocaine.
Hengeveld also pleaded guilty to first-degree unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, driving while impaired by drugs and reckless driving. The defendant, who is scheduled to return to Riverhead before Suffolk Supreme Court Justice Richard Ambro for sentencing on July 13, faces up to 25 years in prison.