A Southampton landscaper has been charged with manslaughter and assault as a result of a head-on crash that killed a German au pair and seriously injured another woman.
Jacob Alegria, 27, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to an indictment charging him with second-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault and other crimes. He was freed after posting bail of a $200,000 bond set by State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho in Central Islip.
Assistant District Attorney Marc Lindemann said that on the afternoon of Feb. 1, Alegria was driving a Lexus SUV at more than 78 mph — more than three times the 25-mph speed limit — on Hill Street in Southampton. Twice, Alegria crossed onto the wrong side of the two-lane road to pass slower cars, Lindemann said.
The second time, Lindemann said, Alegria collided with an Audi Q5 driven by Luisa S. Keszler, 26, of Southampton. Keszler, who was present in court Wednesday, suffered a fractured pelvis, a collapsed lung and other injuries.
Her passenger, Charlotte Meyer, 20, an au pair, was killed.
Lindemann said an analysis of Alegria’s blood showed no alcohol and a small amount of marijuana — not enough to charge him with driving while impaired by drugs. He said an examination of Alegria’s cellphone suggested he was trying to buy more marijuana earlier in the day.
Defense attorney Colin Astarita of Southampton said his client actually was returning home after making a mortgage payment for his parents when he probably had a seizure.
“It’s a horrible, horrible tragedy,” Astarita said. “He doesn’t really remember what happened.”
Since the crash, Astarita said doctors have found a grape-sized cyst in his client’s brain, and he has had other seizures. Astarita said Alegria had a clean driving record and had always driven cautiously until this crash.
Alegria is very upset and sorry about the crash, Astarita said.
Lindemann said there is “ample evidence of the defendant’s recklessness that afternoon,” and he was skeptical that a brain cyst played any role in the crash.
“We are aware of no medical evidence to suggest that this crash was the result of anything but the defendant’s recklessness,” he said.