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Massapequa man pleads not guilty to manslaughter, other charges in wrong-way crash that killed passenger

A Massapequa man accused of driving while impaired by drugs in a May wrong-way crash that killed his passenger pleaded not guilty Thursday to manslaughter and other charges.

A grand jury in June indicted Michael Bantel, 27, after the crash in Massapequa that authorities said killed Anthony Sylvia, 28, of East Meadow.

Police have said Bantel was behind the wheel of a Nissan Maxima at 4:45 a.m. on May 5 when it crossed a median on Sunrise Highway and crashed head-on into a Ford pickup truck. The 37-year-old female driver of that vehicle was treated at a hospital for injuries including lacerations and back pain, according to authorities.

Besides manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter charges, Bantel faces misdemeanor counts that include assault, reckless driving and driving while impaired by drugs. Prosecutors alleged Thursday that Bantel was "impaired by more than one narcotic drug" at the time of the crash.

He remains jailed, with bail set at $500,000, and is facing up to 5 to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top charge.

Bantel's parents were in court when he was arraigned in Mineola, but declined to comment, as did Bantel's attorney, Martha Leventhal of Legal Aid.

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