Israel Maldonado was killed in an auto accident on Pine...

Israel Maldonado was killed in an auto accident on Pine Hollow Road in Oyster Bay last night. Maldonado'a cousin Adan Suazo and the other driver involved in the accident, Peter Sherlock, were also killed. (May 31, 2010) Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

Israel Maldonado was the youngest of eight, the last of seven siblings to leave Honduras in search of prosperity in the United States.

Since moving in with his eldest brother in Oyster Bay four or five years ago, though, Maldonado had told his mother that he would someday return to San Antonio del Norte to be by her side, relatives said.

Now his family is making burial plans, hoping to get his body back to his native land.

Maldonado, 23, and his cousin, Adán Suazo, in his late teens, were killed late Sunday after Maldonado's speeding car struck a Jeep head-on in Oyster Bay, police said.

"We can't do anything to bring them back," his oldest brother, Alejandro Maldonado, 37, said Monday.

Outside the family's home Monday, friends remembered Maldonado as a fitness buff who worked hard at his landscaping job, made time to learn English at night and loved hanging out with his Uniondale girlfriend and close buddies.

Maldonado worked for a landscaping company for more than three years, mowing lawns and gardening for upscale homes in Cold Spring Harbor and Oyster Bay Cove, his brother said. Maldonado paid his brother rent and sent money to his parents.

His roommate Ronald Chavez, 27, said he was supposed to join the pair in the car Sunday but couldn't because he'd been on the East End until late afternoon. Chavez said he last spoke to Maldonado by phone sometime after 9 p.m. Chavez told Maldonado to get back to Oyster Bay after dropping off his girlfriend in Uniondale because they were having a house party. "Maybe he was rushing, coming to the party," Chavez said.

Chavez, an Oyster Bay volunteer firefighter, said a fellow firefighter came to the house after the crash and told him to get in the car, then explained as they approached the site of the collision that his friend was in one of the mangled vehicles. "Everybody thought I was in that car," Chavez said.

Nassau police have said Maldonado was not licensed to drive in New York.

His friend, Angel Bonilla, 27, of Oyster Bay, said Maldonado had only recently fixed the Altima involved in the fatal crash. "He just put the engine in the car two weeks ago," Bonilla said.

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