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Jurors hear anguish of victim in Oniel Sharpe crash trial

Oneil Sharpe Jr., shown at First District Court

Oneil Sharpe Jr., shown at First District Court in Central Islip Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. Credit: James Carbone

Jurors heard a mother’s harrowing description Friday of watching her husband and two children burn to death a year and a half ago on the Southern State Parkway in Bay Shore.

Suffolk prosecutors had intended to call Lucnie Bouaz-Ostane as a witness in the trial of Oniel Sharpe Jr., 26, a maintenance worker charged with aggravated vehicular homicide and other crimes resulting from the July 12, 2015, crash at Exit 41S.

But state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho told jurors that to spare her having to come to court and relive the experience, both sides agreed instead to have a condensed version of her grand jury testimony read in the Central Islip courtroom.

Bouaz-Ostane’s husband, Ancio Ostane, 37, and their children, Andy, 8, and Sephora, 4, all of St. Albans, were killed. Sharpe is accused of driving drunk at high speed into the back of their Toyota RAV4.

Assistant District Attorney James Curtin read Bouaz-Ostane’s testimony.

The family had come from Queens the night of July 11 to go to a church barbecue in Bay Shore, she said to the grand jury. “It was a little event that ended with a prayer,” she said.

The family left about 1:20 a.m., she said. Five minutes later, they were heading west on the Southern State at 50 to 55 mph. Ancio Ostane drove.

“I felt a hit on his side of the car,” she said. The car began shaking and Ostane struggled to control it, Bouaz-Ostane said. After they stopped, she said she felt blood on her left side, but did not say where it came from.

The car was not on fire when she got out, she said. She heard Sephora crying and tried to open the right rear door, but almost immediately the car was engulfed in fire. Cellphone videos from witnesses showed an inferno so fierce it was more than twice the height of the car.

Bouaz-Ostane said she saw people standing near two other cars on the grass.

The videos show that one of those vehicles was the 2008 BMW X5 Sharpe had been driving. One video showed Sharpe throwing a bottle of tequila into the woods.

“I was trying to scream for help, but they turned their backs to me,” Bouaz-Ostane said. “I don’t know why. . . . I was crying for help — ‘Help! Help! My family is in the car!’ ”

She said she ran back and forth, shrieking for help. “I was going crazy,” she said, but no one responded.

Finally, she said some people pulled her away from the fire.

“People kept me from the car,” she said. “It was too late. They were gone.”

Her statement was followed by the trial’s last witness, Suffolk Chief Medical Examiner Michael Caplan. He explained how the Ostanes died.

All three had to be identified by DNA because they were burned beyond recognition, he said.

The airways and lungs of all three were inflamed and lined with soot, indicating they breathed the flames before they died. Both children had carbon monoxide levels in their blood several times higher than what Caplan said he would expect in a lifelong heavy smoker. Ancio Ostane did not, possibly because he died sooner than his children, Caplan said.

Closing arguments and jury deliberations will be Tuesday. If convicted of all charges, Sharpe faces a maximum of 13 to 39 years in prison.


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