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New Hyde Park teen pleads not guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide

Deepak Kumar, of New Hyde Park, leaves court

Deepak Kumar, of New Hyde Park, leaves court in Mineola after indictments were handed down on Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014. Kumar had been arraigned on Aug. 22 on charges of vehicular manslaughter, a felony, and driving while ability impaired by drugs in connection with the death of a California man in New Hyde Park on Aug. 19, police said. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Grieving relatives of a New Hyde Park crash victim watched Wednesday as the 17-year-old accused of killing their loved one by driving while impaired pleaded not guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide.

Deepak Kumar's plea came as authorities unsealed an indictment in a Mineola court alleging the New Hyde Park resident was impaired by a drug or a drug and alcohol when he caused the Aug. 19 crash at Second and Covert avenues.

Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Dellinger said a surveillance camera recorded footage of the crash that killed SirPierre Antoine, 55, of Richmond, California, and injured his wife and 6-year-old daughter.

Dellinger asked for Kumar's bail to remain at $750,000 bond or $500,000 cash, citing upgraded charges that also include manslaughter and assault.

But State Supreme Court Justice William Donnino lowered bail to $300,000 bond or $200,000 cash after Kumar's lawyer argued that his client, who lives with his parents, had no criminal record and had surrendered his passport.

Defense attorney Jan Goldman said his client had been an above-average high school student who'd already been accepted at Nassau Community College and would start school if let out of jail.

"He asked me to please state that his heart goes out to the family and he is very, very sorry regarding their loss," the Garden City lawyer said after court. "But again, we feel this is just an accident."

Goldman said his client had a blood-alcohol level of .03 percent after the crash and "was not impaired or intoxicated, at least regarding alcohol." He said prosecutors are alleging his client used marijuana, but he still had to look at lab reports to "see exactly what it says regarding that."

The attorney said police didn't cite his client for speeding or running a stop sign. But Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice's office said Wednesday that Kumar was driving "at a high rate of speed" before hitting Antoine's car at about 11:30 p.m.

Rice called Kumar "selfish and reckless" in a prepared statement, saying Antoine's daughter saw her father die in a tragedy that "was completely avoidable."

Harry Antoine said Wednesday that his sister-in-law Marta, who suffered punctured lungs, broken ribs and a severed artery among other injuries, got out of the hospital Tuesday.

He said his niece Soliana still was hospitalized after fractures to her pelvis, spine and a leg.

"He's getting a good deal where he'll be able to get out . . . and we still have to deal with the grief," Harry Antoine said of Kumar's reduced bail.

SirPierre Antoine, a supervisor for a public bus company, died in the crash shortly after visiting his ill mother in a hospital.

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