The alleged wrong-way drunken driver accused of killing two Roslyn teens and injuring two others last month pleaded not guilty on Monday to first-degree vehicular manslaughter and other charges included in a 15-count indictment unsealed in Nassau County criminal court.
Amandeep Singh, 34, of Roslyn, had already been charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, manslaughter and other criminal acts in the May 3 crash that led to the deaths of tennis stars Drew Hassenbein and Ethan Falkowitz, both 14.
Acting Supreme Court Justice Helene Gugerty ordered Singh to continue to be held without bail.
Nassau District Attorney Anne Donnelly, speaking at a news conference held after Singh’s arraignment, said Singh had spent the afternoon drinking at a party and “establishments” before the crash at 10:19 p.m. that day. She said Singh’s blood alcohol content was 0.15%, nearly twice the legal limit, several hours after the fatal crash. Traces of cocaine were also detected in his blood and Singh was driving 95 mph the wrong way in a 40 mph zone when the crash took place, Donnelly said.
WHAT TO KNOW
- The alleged wrong-way drunken driver accused of killing two Roslyn teens last month pleaded not guilty on Monday to first-degree vehicular manslaughter and other charges included in a 15-count indictment.
- Amandeep Singh, 34, of Roslyn, had already been charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, manslaughter and other criminal acts in the May 3 crash that led to the deaths of tennis stars Drew Hassenbein and Ethan Falkowitz, both 14.
- Acting Nassau Supreme Court Justice Helene Gugerty ordered Singh to continue to be held without bail.
“Two 14-year-old boys, Ethan Falkowitz and Drew Hassenbein, lost their lives in an instant because of a drunken driver,” Donnelly said. “I am so tired of saying that at press conferences, ‘because of a drunken driver.’ The two other teenagers were also injured in that terrible collision, and will remember that night for the rest of their lives.”
Singh is scheduled to return to court on July 25 and faces up to 32 years in prison if convicted of the charges, Donnelly said.
Michael Bushwack, the chief of the Nassau district attorney’s Vehicular Crimes Bureau, told Gugerty during the arraignment that investigators had gathered "mountains" of evidence, including Singh’s own statements after his arrest, linking him to the horrific crash. Singh told arresting officers that he was surprised to see them because he believed he was in New Jersey, Donnelly said.
“He had indicated that he had been out with some females and he did not want law enforcement to inform his wife of that,” Bushwack said at the news conference.
Singh’s criminal defense attorney, James Kousouros, said he was reviewing the evidence provided by prosecutors. He said police officers’ body-camera footage and other evidence is not “damning” and may not even be admissible at trial.
The deaths of Hassenbein and Falkowitz, and the injuries to the two other tennis players with them, sparked a tidal wave of emotion in Roslyn.
More than two dozen relatives and supporters of the injured teens attended the hearing, while many more waited outside the Mineola courthouse.
Brian Meyerson, a Village of East Hills trustee who said he was a friend of the victims’ families, called on Singh to plead guilty.
“We hope the defendant will not make the families go through any kind of trial,” Meyerson said. “Plead guilty and end this nightmare.”
More than a dozen of Singh’s family members and friends also attended Monday’s arraignment. Singh briefly acknowledged them as he left the court but did not speak.
“This family, this entire family, extends its condolences,” Kousouros said of Singh’s family. “This family, everybody is hurting here, everybody is in tremendous pain.”
Donnelly said Singh was driving a Dodge Ram pickup south in the northbound lanes of North Broadway in Jericho when the truck struck an Alfa Romeo that Hassenbein and Falkowitz, both elite tennis players, were riding in.
An older teammate was driving the teenagers home after a tennis match victory. The teens, who were returning home after eating dinner at the mall following the tennis match, were wearing their seat belts and the driver had a valid license, authorities said.
As witnesses tried to render aid to the teens, Singh fled the scene on foot; police located him in the Broadway Mall parking lot in Hicksville and arrested him, police said.
The new indictment, which also charges Singh with assault, driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident, was handed down on June 5.