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DA: Driver indicted in fatal West Islip road rage case

A 15-year-old boy from West Islip was critically

A 15-year-old boy from West Islip was critically injured after he was struck by a sport utility vehicle while riding his bicycle on Udall Road, Suffolk County police said. (Sept. 11, 2012) Credit: Paul Mazza

A West Islip man was arraigned on criminally negligent homicide and reckless driving charges Wednesday in a road rage case that killed a 15-year-old bicyclist on Sept. 11, prosecutors said.

A seven-month investigation by Third Precinct detectives concluded that Dennis Grabhorn Jr., 34, was headed south on Udall Road in West Islip when a driver in the left turn lane pulled out in front of Grabhorn.

"The defendant was angry and began tailgating the vehicle," said a news release from Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota's office.

Grabhorn's Chevrolet Tahoe cut back in front of the other driver as they neared Pine Avenue, and as it did so, the vehicle hit Thomas Labetti, who was pedaling south on Udall Road, authorities said.

The teenager was taken with "severe internal injuries" to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center, but he died Sept. 27, police said.

The suspect's father said he feels for the victim's family and his son, but said what happened was not road rage.

"It was an accident," said Dennis Grabhorn Sr., former president of Newsday's union workers. "He did not see him. When he saw him, it was too late."

A call to the Labetti family was not returned.

Grabhorn Jr. was arrested Tuesday, authorities said. Bail was set at $25,000 cash or $50,000 bond.

"Today's arraignment brings a defendant before the courts who, as a result of his reckless driving, caused the tragic death of a 15-year-old boy while he was riding his bike," Spota said in the release.

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