A Farmingdale teen was indicted Thursday on manslaughter charges in connection with a May street race that resulted in a crash killing five of his teenage friends.
Cory Gloe, 18, challenged his friend to a race while stopped at a red light at Route 110 and Conklin Street, a prosecutor said in court Thursday. His friend lost control and crashed, killing himself and four friends. Gloe was not directly involved in the crash.
All those killed were either current or former students of Farmingdale High School.
Gloe pleaded not guilty Thursday to five counts of second-degree manslaughter, two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of third-degree assault, five counts of criminally negligent homicide, reckless endangerment, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident without reporting, prosecutors said.
Killed in the crash were Tristan Reichle, 17; Jesse Romero, 18; Carly Marie Lonnborg, 14; Noah Francis, 15; and Cody Talanian, 17.
Gloe's indictment came nine months after the deadly crash on a road many in Farmingdale see as notoriously dangerous. Days after the accident, more than 1,000 people attended a prayer vigil at a local church.
Gloe, who faces 5 to 15 years in prison on the top charge, was ordered held on $50,000 bail or bond and his driver's license was suspended during the court hearing before Nassau County Court Judge Terence Murphy. Family members of both the defendant and the victims declined to comment to the media after the hearing, but some were seen hugging and crying.
Gloe was bailed out less than a half-hour after the arraignment and didn't answer reporters' questions as he was led by his attorney, Stephen Wade LaMagna of Garden City, to a waiting sport utility vehicle. He's due back in court Feb. 11.
LaMagna, who said his client was "heartbroken," told the judge: "My client was not involved in any collision whatsoever. . . . To this day, no one knows how or why the car swerved into traffic."
Gloe, who was driving a 2008 Toyota Scion, left the Airport Plaza Mall parking lot area on Route 110 in Farmingdale after "participating in organized street races on the streets behind the mall" and challenged his friend, Reichle, to race while stopped at the red light, said Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Dellinger of the district attorney's vehicular crimes bureau.
Reichle, who had four friends inside his Nissan -- Romero, Lonnborg, Francis and Talanian -- was heading west on Conklin when his car crossed into the eastbound lanes and collided with a sport utility vehicle just after midnight May 10 near Staples Street. Two of Reichle's passengers were ejected.
The SUV driver and passenger, a Maryland couple visiting family on Long Island and whose identities were not released, "sustained serious injuries for which they have each undergone multiple surgeries and are still recovering," Dellinger said.
Reichle and Romero were both seniors still deciding how to pursue their futures, while Francis and Lonnborg were just starting out as freshmen; Talanian, a past student of Farmingdale, was described by a friend as an optimist who had "always been able to see the positive in a negative situation."
Reichle's father said his son planned to go to community college after high school or work in the Hamptons in a family swimming pool business.
Romero's relatives said he was considering finding a job -- perhaps as an auto mechanic -- after school. When not working, his two passions were playing guitar and following former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
Those close to Noah recalled his sense of humor and warmth, and his experience with more loss than a lot of 15-year-olds.
Francis moved to Farmingdale from Kansas City, Kansas, less than a year before the crash after his father died. He lived with his sister Celeste, 29. "Everybody loved him," a relative said.
Lonnborg was an only child, her father said. At the time of her death, a family statement said that in 14 years, "she lived a full vibrant life and touched everyone who was lucky enough to have known her."Gloe's attorney LaMagna called the crash "unbelievably tragic."
"Five young people lost their lives in a very tragic, very sad accident. Five families have been mourning, an entire community has been mourning these young people," he said. "Unfortunately, in tragedies such as these, invariably, the district attorney's office has the need to blame somebody, anybody, whether or not that person was truly responsible for this tragedy."