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LI motorist pleads guilty to striking, killing pedestrian, DA says

A Centereach man has been convicted of striking and killing a pedestrian in Nesconset last year while high on a cocktail of drugs, including fentanyl and morphine, prosecutors said.

Jesse Santucci, 42, pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree vehicular manslaughter, a felony, and driving while ability impaired by the combined influence of drugs, an unclassified misdemeanor.

“Anytime you get behind the wheel while impaired by drugs or alcohol, you are putting lives at risk,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini in a news release. “There is no excuse for this reckless, dangerous behavior. Today’s conviction holds this individual responsible and serves justice for the victim and his loved ones.”

John Ray of Miller Place, Santucci's defense attorney, said his client had "extreme remorse" for his actions.

"Justice was done today," Ray said. "This was a tragedy for this poor family."

Authorities said Santucci was driving a 2018 Audi on Rosevale Avenue in Nesconset on Sept. 29 when his vehicle struck Kevin Hartnett, 26, who was walking north on the shoulder of the road. Hartnett, of Ronkonkoma, was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment, but died two days later. 

Santucci was arrested by Suffolk police shortly after the crash. A blood test showed he was driving while impaired by a combination of fentanyl, morphine, suboxone and neurontin, authorities said. Santucci was also in possession of THC oil, police said. 

Acting Suffolk Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho will sentence Santucci on Aug. 22.

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