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Two Queens men, 19, killed in crash on eastbound Southern State Parkway, cops say

A car is removed from the scene of

A car is removed from the scene of an accident on the eastbound Southern State Parkway which was closed for an accident investigation Tuesday morning, Nov. 11, 2014, in North Valley Stream, officials said. The road was closed for about six hours from exits 14 to 17 at 12:42 a.m., according to the state's website. Credit: News 12

Two 19-year-old Queens men heading to a bowling alley were killed early Tuesday when their car crashed into a bridge overpass on the Southern State Parkway in North Valley Stream and burst into flames, State Police said.

Joseph Kelly of Laurelton "failed to negotiate a turn and lost control of the vehicle, mounting the right shoulder" and striking the Franklin Avenue overpass east of Exit 15 at about 12:35 a.m., State Police Senior Investigator Joseph U. DeMaria Jr. said in a statement.

Kelly's car, a Dodge Neon, "became fully engulfed in flames, trapping both occupants inside," the statement said.

Police identified passenger Justin Johnson as the other victim. Both died at the scene, police said.

A police spokesman said no criminality is suspected in the crash, which closed the eastbound Southern State between Exits 14 and 17 for about six hours.

Police said it was not immediately clear whether speed was a factor. Volunteers from the Elmont Fire Department extinguished the fire.

Johnson and Kelly were among a caravan of five cars of friends from high school heading to a bowling alley in Baldwin when the accident occurred, said Johnson's distraught mother, Paula Johnson, 48. She said police have not told her what caused the crash.

Johnson, a 2011 graduate of Thomas A. Edison Career & Technical Education High School in Jamaica, Queens, had grown up bowling with his father and was in a bowling league in high school, she said. Kelly also went to school there, she said.

Kelly's family couldn't be reached.

"Justin grew up bowling, watching his dad," said Paula Johnson, who works as a medical biller in Westbury. "He was really good. But I'm his mom. I'm not really impartial."

She said her son, who lived at home with his parents and younger sister in Rosedale, had asked her whether he could go bowling earlier Monday evening, saying he had no school or work on Veterans Day.

Johnson worked as a server at the Olive Garden restaurant at the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream and was studying at an automotive school on Merrick Road in Queens with hopes of one day having his own body shop.

"He just loved doing anything with his hands," said his mother, who said besides bowling once or twice a week, he played drums and sang in his church choir.

She said the family is "extremely close" and the loss of her son is devastating.

"It's just really hard," she said, crying as she spoke. "Justin lived life to the fullest. Wherever Justin was, there was laughter."

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