At 6 a.m. on July 5, 2010, police say Dave...

At 6 a.m. on July 5, 2010, police say Dave Richards, 30, of Hempstead, was driving his a 2002 Mercedes-Benz drunk and the wrong-way on the LIE near Exit 24 when he crashed head-on into an airport shuttle driver, John Rey, 64, of Greenlawn. Rey later died from his injuries. Credit: Vic Nicastro

A Hempstead man accused of driving drunk the wrong way on the Long Island Expressway and striking and killing an airport shuttle driver may plead guilty to manslaughter in an unusual deal with Queens prosecutors, his lawyer said Thursday.

Dave T. Richards, 31, currently faces lower charges that include second-degree vehicular assault in connection with the July 5 two-car collision in Flushing that fatally wounded John Rey, 64, of Greenlawn. Rey died 16 days after the crash.

The deal appears to be unusual because it involves the defendant pleading guilty to upgraded charges rather than lower ones. It must be approved by State Supreme Court Justice Gregory Lasak, who spoke to the attorneys Thursday at the bench but made no public comment on the case.

Richards, who appeared in a wheelchair at a hearing Thursday at state Supreme Court in Queens, has no memory of the incident and no use of limbs damaged in the crash, said lawyer Leonard Ressler. He is being held at an infirmary on Rikers Island. "He's lost his leg, he's lost his arm, he has a pacemaker, he's lost his mind," Ressler said.

Richards' next court date is Feb. 28. Assistant District Attorney John Kosinski said he does not comment on pending plea deals.

Rey's daughters, Courtney Rey, 33, and Colleen Rey Cassar, 44, are lobbying for legislation called "John Rey's Law," which, if passed, would require the state Department of Transportation to study ways to reduce wrong-way driving.

They said they were aware a deal was in the works, but found limited solace in the prospect of Richards' pleading guilty to upgraded charges.

"The punishment is never going to fit the crime," Rey Cassar said. "He can go to jail, he can do time, but he's not being punished. Our father was punished. We're being punished."

Rey Cassar said: "All we can hope for is to prevent this from happening in the future, to prevent families from suffering like ours."

Richards' family Thursday refused to comment.

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