Angel Salas, 9, who was killed in a crash when...

Angel Salas, 9, who was killed in a crash when the car he was in was rear-ended by a driver accused of being drunk, high and speeding. Credit: Juliana Salas

A Suffolk County grand jury has indicted a Brooklyn man who was allegedly drunk, high and driving 119 miles per hour on a suspended license when he rear-ended another vehicle, leading to the death of 9-year-old Angel Salas, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The 12-count indictment against Travis Dickson, 28, of Brooklyn, includes second-degree manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, multiple driving while intoxicated counts and other charges in Angel's death, according to a news release from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.

"He was the best son I could have ever asked for," said Angel's mother, Juliana Salas, of Hicksville.

"I don’t know yet how to feel and I just know this process has to happen," she said of the court proceedings. "This is all about Angel. He didn’t have a choice. He was riding in the back of his father’s car, sleeping."

Dickson, who most recently worked at an after-school program for the Brooklyn-based nonprofit Generation Youth of America, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday, said Dickson’s defense attorney, Michael J. Brown of Central Islip. Prosecutors alleged that Dickson had a blood alcohol content of 0.13 about two hours after the crash and he also tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, Brown said. The legal limit to drive in New York State is a BAC of 0.08.

Acting Supreme Court Justice Judge Richard I. Horowitz ordered Dickson held on $500,000 cash, $750,000 bond or $1,000,000 partially secured bond at his Wednesday arraignment on the indictment, prosecutors said.

Angel was slated to start the fourth grade and was excited to return to the classroom after attending school virtually through the coronavirus pandemic, Salas said in an interview Wednesday. "He made friends very easily and he missed being in the classroom and back with his friends. He was looking forward to all of those things."

Angel was an organ donor, and his liver and kidneys helped save the lives of three people.

Salas, who said she plans to advocate for Angel through the legal process, implored drivers to "make good choices" and act responsibly.

"Getting on the road and driving from Brooklyn far out in Suffolk County, having been under the influence, and then deciding to not have a plan to get home safely, it boils down to just poor choices all along the way," said Salas. "This shouldn't happen. It's not like he didn't know any better."

Dickson's attorney said his client, a father himself, has been devastated by Angel's death.

“From the moment that he retained my office and met with me, it’s clear he’s been distraught over the fact that, as the result of an accident, a young child has lost his life," Brown said. "He comes from a very good, stable, hardworking family where his mom is a longtime administrator at a hospital and his dad works for the City of New York. And he’s the father of a 1-year-old child."

The crash occurred on Aug. 22, when Dickson, who was driving a 2018 BMW 540i westbound on the Long Island Expressway in Farmingville, rear-ended a 2019 Toyota Corolla being driven by Angel's father, Bruce Koch, at about 1:49 a.m., authorities said.

Dickson, who allegedly had marijuana on him at the time of the crash, did not press his brakes before striking the rear of the Corolla, prosecutors said. The BMW’s impact crushed the back of the Toyota where Angel was restrained in his booster seat, prosecutors said.

“Another young life was cut short because of poor judgment by this reckless driver,” Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney said in a statement. “A 9-year-old child will never have the chance to experience life and his father is now left with the mental and physical pain of the fatal day that has forever changed his life.”

Suffolk County police said previously that all three people involved in the crash were transported to Stony Brook University Hospital. Prosecutors said Salas was in critical condition, while police previously said Koch had minor injuries. Two days after the crash, Angel died from his injuries.

Dickson, who had non-life-threatening injuries, was discharged from the hospital a day after the crash and arraigned on a DWI charge. He posted a $200,000 bond a few days later, his attorney said.

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