Charges in a four-vehicle crash were upgraded to homicide and manslaughter against a driver who veered across the Long Island Expressway in March, killing a woman and injuring seven others, the Suffolk district attorney’s office said Friday.
A 20-count indictment, unsealed Friday, charges Peter Visconti Jr., 37, of Mastic, with 12 felonies: aggravated vehicular homicide; second-degree manslaughter; second-degree vehicular manslaughter; aggravated vehicular assault; four counts of second-degree assault; and four counts of second-degree vehicular assault. The other charges are misdemeanors.
His attorney, Vincent Trimarco of Smithtown, declined to comment.
Visconti was driving erratically in a Ford pickup March 31, veering twice on the westbound LIE in Shirley before hitting a minivan, then careening across to the eastbound side, where he struck another minivan and a motorcyclist, police said.
The impact with the eastbound minivan was so great that a side panel from the vehicle was impaled on Visconti’s pickup, according to District Attorney Timothy Sini.
He was also injured and taken to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center, interviewed at the hospital by a police drug recognition expert, who concluded that Visconti showed signs of being impaired by a drug, Sini said in a news release. Visconti consented to a blood test, which tested positive for alprazolam, known as Xanax, and cocaine, prosecutors said.
Visconti initially had been charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.
“This was a tragic incident that could have been avoided if not for the reckless actions of the defendant,” Sini said in a statement.
One passenger in the eastbound minivan was killed and six visitors from China in the van were injured, three of them seriously, officials said. The motorcyclist was also injured, police said.
Visconti was arraigned Friday on the indictment charges and held on a bail of $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond.