Six people died in separate Long Island crashes over less than 24 hours — including three children ages 6, 10 and 13 in Nassau and a 72-year-old woman hit while crossing a street in Suffolk, according to the authorities.
Speeding, intoxication and loss of control are among the causes identified so far by the police.
In Nassau, driver Patrice Huntley, 60, of Flushing, and his children, Jeremiah, 10, and Hannah, 13, of Uniondale, were killed in a crash about 7:20 p.m. Sunday on Sunrise Highway in East Massapequa.
The family had been on an outing to celebrate Huntley’s new job, according to the Nassau County Police Department.
WHAT TO KNOW
- Six people died in separate Long Island crashes in less than 24 hours
- Three of the victims who died were children, ages 6, 10 and 13.
- Speeding, intoxication and loss of vehicle control are among the causes identified so far by the police.
The Huntleys were in a 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe that was struck by a driver who was allegedly speeding and whose vehicle overturned in the collision, according to Massapequa Fire Department Third Assistant Chief Conor McCaffrey. Two other vehicles were also involved, McCaffrey said.
The speeder’s name wasn’t disclosed.
High rate of speed
Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said at a news conference that the Huntleys had been out to get ice cream “because Dad just got a new job.”
But a 2023 Hyundai Kona being driven at a “very high rate of speed” by a 32-year-old man from Lindenhurst rear-ended Huntley’s Hyundai, according to the county police department. The crash sent Huntley’s vehicle into a Chevrolet Malibu driven by an 83-year-old man from Long Beach.
The Kona flipped onto those vehicles and then onto a fourth vehicle, a 2016 Hyundai Elantra operated by a 33-year-old Massapequa man, the police said.
Among those injured in Huntley’s vehicle were an 18-year-old and a 6-year-old granddaughter of Patrice Huntley, as well as a 14-year-old boy.
Hannah was pronounced dead at the scene while Jeremiah was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The 6-year-old has brain bleeding, the 18-year-old has “extreme internal injuries” and the 14-year-old boy has back and rib injuries but is in stable condition. The Malibu driver was hospitalized in stable condition.
The Elantra driver declined medical attention.
Officers who responded to the scene visited the department’s Peer Support Group because the crash led to “one of the most horrific scenes” police have encountered, Det. Capt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said.
That crash occurred several hours after a 77-year-old bicyclist, Jong Hwan of Hicksville, was struck and killed by a 20-year-old driving an SUV in Hicksville.
The SUV driver was trying to make a right turn into the southbound lanes of North Broadway from Princess Street when he struck Hwan. The case remains under investigation, the county police department said.
Girl dies in crash
About 2:22 a.m. Monday in West Hempstead, another driver “traveling at a high rate of speed,” this time on eastbound Hempstead Turnpike, crashed an SUV into a parked car, killing a 6-year-old girl and injuring several others, according to the police department.
The driver, a Freeport man, was behind the wheel of a 2005 Nissan Pathfinder on the turnpike at Westminster Road and tried to beat a red light. He accelerated through the intersection, lost control and hit a 2009 Toyota Corolla parked on the roadside with flashers activated.
The driver of the Corolla, a 24-year-old man, was inside the vehicle at the time, and his 26-year-old wife was outside the car, the police said.
In addition to the 6-year-old girl who was killed, identified as Katerine Vanegas-Hernandez of West Hempstead, a 5-year-old girl in the rear of the Corolla as well as the 26-year-old woman and her 17-year-old niece suffered injuries.
The Pathfinder driver, Jorge Bonilla Gutierrez, 18, of Freeport, was arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter, second-degree vehicular manslaughter, assault and driving while intoxicated. He allegedly had twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system, according to a breath test described at the news conference.
Gutierrez was hospitalized with injuries after the crash and will be arraigned bedside Tuesday, the police said.
Struck crossing road
In Suffolk about seven hours later, 72-year-old Lydia Ciminelli of Lake Ronkonkoma was crossing Rosevale Avenue south of Motor Parkway when she was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver, according to a news release from the Suffolk County Police Department.
No one had been arrested as of midafternoon Monday.
McCaffrey said that though firefighters have responded to prior serious crashes on the section of Sunrise Highway where the Huntleys were killed, including a fatal wrong-way crash about a quarter-mile away at the intersection of Park Boulevard last November, this crash was different.
“It was atypical as far as car accidents go,” he said. “There was significant trauma. One car was overturned; there was significant damage to the other vehicle involved — the one that had the most number of people in it . . . This accident had significant damage. Luckily, we don’t respond to this severe an accident often, thank God.”
Fitzpatrick said his advice to the public was: “Public awareness, slow down . . . You’re killing families. . . . The rate of speed, one guy’s driving drunk — put the blame where it belongs.”
Both directions of Sunrise Highway in the vicinity of the East Massapequa crash were closed for more than eight hours overnight, but the highway was reopened in both directions before dawn.
There were 74,683 crashes on Long Island in 2022 — 38,935 in Nassau County and 35,748 in Suffolk, according to preliminary statistics maintained by the Institute for the University at Albany-based Traffic Safety Management & Research. In those crashes, 80 were killed and 14,514 injured in Nassau and 154 were killed and 13,533 injured in Suffolk. There were at least 70 pedestrians who were killed on the Island last year — 50 in Suffolk and 20 in Nassau. And seven cyclists were killed in Suffolk and two in Nassau.
“We’ve become so accustomed to this type of loss that if you equated it to overdose or any other social problem that people are dying in hundreds, there would be an outrage, but culturally we’ve just come to accept this as a normal part of our lives," said Daniel Flanzig of Sea Cliff, a road safety activist and lawyer who represents pedestrians, cyclists and others injured in crashes.
With John Valenti