A car full of Farmingdale High School students crossed into oncoming traffic and collided with a sport utility vehicle early yesterday, killing four of the teenagers and plunging the community into mourning.
The impact of the crash threw two of the teenagers from their 2001 Nissan sedan, police said.
"It was really a horrific scene," said Farmingdale Fire Department spokesman Christopher Pieloch, who responded to the accident.
Five teenagers were in the car heading west on Conklin Street when it crossed into the eastbound lanes and collided with a GMC near Staples Street about 12:04 a.m., Nassau police said.
The front of the SUV slammed into the passenger side of the Nissan, crushing the smaller car, first responders said.
A police source with knowledge of the investigation said detectives are trying to determine if the Nissan's driver was intoxicated or distracted at the time of the crash. Detectives are also combing through the cellphones of the occupants of both vehicles to see if they were talking or texting.
One of the teens who was ejected died at the scene; the other was listed in serious condition Saturday night at a hospital, police said.
Two other passengers in the Nissan, a male and a female, were killed on impact. The male driver died at Nassau University Medical Center, according to police.
The two people in the GMC, a man, 53, and his female passenger, suffered serious injuries but are expected to survive, police said.
They are from Maryland and had come to Long Island to visit family, another Nassau County source said. They were driving back to their hotel.
Both were listed in serious condition at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip.
Farmingdale Board of Education president Shari Bardash-Eivers confirmed that all of the teens attended the local high school. She said she couldn't say much about the students because their names hadn't been officially released by police. Social workers and psychologists will be at Farmingdale High Monday to provide grief counseling to students and staff, she said.
"It's just a horrific, horrible tragedy," she said. "This is definitely a community in grief."
Relatives identified two of the dead teens as Jesse Romero, 18, and Noah Francis, 15.
Both vehicles were impounded for routine brake and other safety checks as vehicular homicide investigators began working to re-create the crash, using measurements of skid marks, analysis of vehicle damage, witness statements and forensic "black box-type" information, the police source said.
"Where the Nissan's occupants were, what they did, the timeline of their activities . . . all of that is part of the investigation," the source said. "With a crash this horrific, you have to look at every angle, every piece of information."
The police source said investigators have been told by some of the victims' acquaintances that they saw at least some of the Nissan's occupants drinking at a party on Friday night. Those accounts have not been confirmed, the source added.
Detectives are also working to determine how fast each vehicle was traveling at the time of impact, and whether the Nissan drifted across the line or the driver lost control, the source said.
Investigators were sent to local hospitals to question crash survivors, but it wasn't clear late Saturday whether those interviews had occurred.
Public officials expressed sympathy for the victims' families, while tearful friends and relatives visited a makeshift memorial at the crash scene.
"My wife Linda and I imagine there is no pain more far-reaching and deeper than losing a child," Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said in a statement. "Our hearts and prayers go out to the parents who lost their children in this tragic car accident, and we wish those seriously injured and hospitalized a speedy recovery."
The scene of the tragedy quickly became a place of mourning for family, friends and even strangers.
Sal Sherman, 18, who graduated from Farmingdale High and now attends St. John's University, lit a candle and laid down a white rose. He said afterward that he was friends with some of the victims.
"Everybody's really close," he said. "This is a time when everybody is bonding and coming together."
The Farmingdale crash is the deadliest automobile accident on Long Island since Oct. 8, 2012, when then-17-year-old Joseph Beer lost control of his car on the westbound Southern State Parkway in Lakeview and crashed his 2012 Subaru Impreza into trees.
Four teenage passengers died in the crash, while Beer, of South Richmond Hill, Queens, was the only survivor.
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