Shortly before Ebony Jenkins came upon the scene of a deadly crash on the Southern State Parkway in 2015, she said she saw two vehicles zip past her at 85 to 87 mph, then dash in front of another driver.
“They basically cut her off,” Jenkins testified Wednesday in the Oniel Sharpe Jr. vehicular homicide trial.
The vehicles quickly disappeared from view — a dark-colored one in front, a light-colored vehicle apparently giving chase, Jenkins told jurors before state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho in Central Islip.
Jenkins, who was living then in Baldwin, said she continued driving in the early morning of July 12, 2015, and saw a wrecked, burning vehicle.
Trapped inside were Ancio Ostane, 37, and his children, Andy, 8, and Sephora, 4, of St. Albans, Queens. They all burned to death, according to Andrew Viskovich, of Brentwood Legion Ambulance, who responded to the crash and testified Wednesday.
Suffolk prosecutors said Sharpe, 25, a maintenance worker from Springfield Gardens, Queens, was driving his mother’s silver BMW X5 sport utility vehicle, racing behind a black BMW sedan driven by Sheon Richards, 26, of St. Albans. Both men had been at a booze-fueled party that night, prosecutors said.
Sharpe plowed into the back of the Ostane family car, a smaller Toyota RAV4, Assistant District Attorney Maggie Bopp said in her opening statement Tuesday. Ancio Ostane’s wife, Lucnie Bouaz-Ostane, escaped and tried to rescue her husband and children, but the doors were locked.
Sharpe hurled a nearly empty bottle of Patrón tequila into the woods and left the scene in a car driven by a friend, Bopp said. He disappeared for four hours, not meeting police until the alcohol in his body had dissipated, she said.
Sharpe is charged with aggravated vehicular homicide and numerous other crimes. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 13 to 39 years in prison.
During cross-examination by Sharpe’s attorney, Jonathan Manley of Hauppauge, Jenkins acknowledged that Wednesday was the first time she said the two vehicles were being driven recklessly immediately before the crash.
Jenkins said she didn’t mention it to investigators in July 2015, or when she testified at a grand jury proceeding in August 2015, because she was never asked about it and only answered questions that were asked of her.
Another prosecution witness, Myra Nanjara, 27, a dental assistant from Farmingdale, testified Wednesday that she, too, was driving on the Southern State when she saw the Ostane family car on fire.
Nanjara said she stopped and called 911.
“Oh my God, oh my God,” she told the dispatcher. “They’re trapped. They’re dying.”
The witness, however, said she didn’t see vehicles speeding on the parkway before the collision.