Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini said Friday he anticipated upgraded charges against the driver of a stolen car that caused “one of the worst motor vehicle crashes in Suffolk County’s history.”
“We have five fatalities. Five people who can no longer go home to their families,” Sini said at First District Court in Central Islip after the arraignment of Jamel Turner, 23, of Bellport. “We have one individual who is seriously physically injured, a neck fracture that could cause injury for the rest of his life.”
Sini said the accident scene “looked like an airplane crash.”
“This is a serious, serious crime,” Sini said. “We are going to thoroughly investigate it in partnership with the Suffolk County Police Department and ensure that all appropriate charges are brought.”
A woman and her adult son and daughter were among the five people killed in Ridge when a speeding 2018 Chevrolet Camaro that had been reported stolen hit their Mazda, part of a four-vehicle crash on Wednesday, Suffolk police said.
Although authorities have not named the people in the Mazda, the dead woman’s sister identified her as Jackie McCoy, 55, of Calverton.
“I don’t have no sympathy for that boy [Turner] that’s in the hospital. He needs to be buried,” said Angela Denise McCoy, 60. “My sister didn’t deserve this. She was too young and too good of a person to have that happen.”
Also in the Mazda was McCoy’s son, Anthony McCoy, his sister, Mary Alice Booker and Anthony’s partner, Tameka Foster, according to the victim’s sister.
“It’s a sad thing those young people died before their time,” McCoy said. “The family is devastated.”
They were all killed when the 2012 Mazda they were riding in on Middle Country Road was struck by the Camaro, which traveled in excess of 100 mph, said Assistant District Attorney Brendan Ahern. The car then slammed into an Infiniti and erupted in flames, police said Thursday. The Camaro then hit an oil delivery truck.
“There were people inside that burning Mazda and each of them was burned beyond recognition,” Ahern said. The fifth victim, Lonidell Skinner, 19, of Bellport, was ejected from the Camaro. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Turner, the Camaro driver, pleaded not guilty at arraignment in First District Court to charges of false personation, aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle in the second degree, criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree and reckless endangerment in the second degree.
Judge Jennifer A. Henry ordered Turner held on $600,000 cash bail or $1.2 million bond.
“Obviously, this is a tragic situation,” said John Halverson, Turner’s Patchogue attorney. “To the families of the victims, our heart goes out to them. It’s an absolute tragedy and we’re very, very sorry for the victims.”
Ahern said at the arraignment that Turner was a known member of the Bloods street gang, prompting a gasp from the crowd in the courtroom.
After the arraignment, Halverson said he has no knowledge of his client being a gang member.
“I don’t think it’s relevant to this terrible situation,” Halverson said.
Sini called Turner “a serious offender, someone who has 10 criminal convictions, multiple instances of failure to appear in court.”
Turner has several prior convictions on misdemeanor charges. In his most recent case in 2016, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail for unlawful fleeing of an officer in a motor vehicle, records show.
The crash took place about a mile from an apartment complex where police had earlier located the Camaro. An OnStar report had indicated it had been stolen from Shirley.
After the Camaro sped away, police followed until they came upon the crash scene, said authorities, who are looking at whether the officers engaged the Camaro in a pursuit.
The driver of the oil truck was also taken to Stony Brook University Hospital with multiple fractures in his neck. The driver of the Infiniti was not injured.
Turner was treated at Stony Brook University Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
At arraignment, Turner was in a wheelchair and he wore a neck brace. He donned a hospital gown and had his hands cuffed behind his back. He said nothing. Turner’s loved ones were present at the arraignment but sobbed while they declined to comment.