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Driver pleads not guilty in fatal Hempstead crash

Sandra Williams holds a photo of her daughter

Sandra Williams holds a photo of her daughter Diamond Hawkins-Williams as Horace Cummings is brought into the Nassau County Courthouse on Monday, Aug. 8, 2016 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The family of a Lakeview woman who died on her 25th birthday after a crash in her new car shed tears in court Monday as the man accused of causing her death pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges.

Horace Cummings, 33, of Roosevelt, surrendered to police on an arrest warrant in connection with the Nov. 21 crash in Hempstead that killed Diamond Hawkins-Williams, according to authorities.

Cummings then pleaded not guilty in Nassau County Court to charges including manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, drug-impaired driving, assault and unlicensed driving. He faces 5 to 15 years in prison if found guilty of the most serious count against him.

Hawkins-Williams worked seasonally as a Nassau County parks employee and also as a motel clerk, her mother said Monday.

Sandra Williams, 54, also said her daughter left behind a 3-year-old son, Zyaire, who still doesn’t understand why she’s gone.

Nassau prosecutors say Cummings was impaired by a drug and the combination of a drug and alcohol when he got behind the wheel of Hawkins-Williams’ 2015 Nissan Altima before it collided head-on with a Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle after crossing the centerline on Front Street.

Police had said after the crash they still were investigating who had been driving the Altima.

The crash happened in the early morning of the day the victim turned 25, and hours after getting the Altima from her grandmother as a gift, the Williams family said.

In a statement, Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas called the crash’s circumstances disturbing for anyone who travels on local roads and heartbreaking for the victim’s family. “Nassau County will not tolerate this blatant disregard for life,” she said.

Hawkins-Williams grew up in Lakeview, went to Malverne High School and was a single mother who was devoted to her only child, according to her family.

The victim’s mother said her daughter had been dating Cummings for about two months.

Cummings’ Queens lawyer, Michael Siff, told State Supreme Court Justice Robert McDonald in Mineola during the arraignment that his unemployed client wasn’t a flight risk.

But prosecutor Stephanie Dellinger said the defendant had been living out of state, before the judge ordered Cummings held for now in lieu of $500,000 bond or $250,000 cash.

After court, Siff called the crash an “unfortunate accident” but declined to comment further.

Cummings did not respond to a question as court officers walked him out.

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