A motorist is facing a felony charge after authorities accused him of crashing a car into a Baldwin church while driving more than 100 mph before fleeing the scene.
An attorney for Sherif Wheeler, 22, of Baldwin, said he pleaded not guilty Thursday in Nassau County Court during an arraignment over the March 8 incident.
The indictment charges him with offenses including a felony count of reckless endangerment, and misdemeanors of driving while ability impaired, reckless driving, assault, leaving an accident with injury without reporting it, and aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle.
Police had alleged at the time of the crash that Wheeler lost control of an Infiniti G35 on a Sunday morning, before barreling through a wall of the Second Baptist Church on Grand Avenue.
A church representative estimated damage at about $100,000, and the crash forced the congregation to move Sunday services to a different church building.
Police said at the time that a friend had taken Wheeler's 20-year-old passenger, whom they didn't identify, to a hospital for injuries suffered in the crash. They said they arrested Wheeler hours after the 4:25 a.m. wreck.
Wheeler's attorney, Mark Silverman of Freeport, said Thursday that his client wasn't impaired or fleeing, and left the scene because emergency officials didn't show up immediately, and "he saw his friend was in a lot of pain, so he took his friend to a hospital."
Authorities said a judge set $25,000 bail for Wheeler.