Oscar E. Ramirez-Lopez, 29, of Brentwood was the driver of...

Oscar E. Ramirez-Lopez, 29, of Brentwood was the driver of a vehicle that struck another car on the Wantagh Parkway and killed both occupants, police say. (April 30, 2011) Credit: Photo by Jim Staubitser

Two construction workers on their way to work were killed early yesterday on the Wantagh State Parkway in Levittown after a driver accused of being drunk hit their car, causing them to crash into a tree, State Police said.

Killed in the 4:52 a.m. accident were Ilario Scuteri, 49, of West Islip, and Daniel Gambardella, 46, of North Babylon.

The men were riding in a Kia Sephia sedan that was forced off the road after being sideswiped by a Ford Windstar minivan driven by Oscar E. Ramirez-Lopez, 29, of Brentwood, police said.

"They were going to work in the city," Eli Roman, a State Police senior investigator, said of Scuteri and his passenger, Gambardella.

Ramirez-Lopez was arrested and charged with first-degree vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and driving without a license.

Roman said police could find no record that Ramirez-Lopez ever had a driver's license.

Ramirez-Lopez had been "out drinking" before the crash and there were "indications" he was intoxicated when officers gave him field sobriety tests, Roman said.

Ramirez-Lopez was taken to Nassau University Medical Center and treated for minor injuries. Due to be arraigned today, he is being held at the Nassau County jail.

State Police said in a statement that Ramirez-Lopez is an undocumented immigrant.

Authorities shut down the parkway in both directions for six hours after the crash.

Police said both cars were northbound on the parkway one-quarter mile south of Hempstead Turnpike when the minivan veered into the right lane, striking the sedan.

The collision forced the sedan off the road and into a tree, police said. Scuteri and Gambardella died at the scene.

There were no indications that speeding was a factor in the crash, according to police.

After hitting the sedan, the minivan crashed into the parkway's center divider twice before stopping in the middle of the highway, police said.

Gambardella, married for 14 years to his wife Linda, had two children, Daniel Jr., 16, and Ava, 7. The family has lived in North Babylon for about 20 years, relatives said.

Charles Ciani said his nephew was a devoted husband and father who would travel across the state to watch his son play baseball. "Family was all he cared about," Ciani said.

Gambardella was passionate about sports, following the Mets and Islanders closely and playing softball, flag football, hockey and soccer himself. "He was very athletic and kept himself in great shape," Ciani said.

He said Gambardella was active in combating drunken driving, contributing regularly to END DWI, a local advocacy group Ciani helps run.

Brian Castles, 50, of Holbrook, a close friend, said Gambardella, a carpenter "was a strong guy but as kind a person as you could ever find."

At the Scuteri home, family members declined to comment, with one relative saying, "It's just too new."

Saddened neighbors noted that Scuteri has lived there for more than a decade and was well-liked. "It's just a shock right now," said one neighbor who did not provide her name.

Police ask that anyone who witnessed the crash call State Police investigator Sean Michael Pagano at 516-561-8492.

With Keri Murakami

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