"You killed my child! Rot in hell!" screamed Yolanda Silvera, stepmother of Tynielle Silvera, as the defendant stood before a judge in First District Court in Central Islip. She yelled out repeatedly before being led out by loved ones and court officers, while Kenneth Serwan was arraigned.
Tynielle Silvera, 18, was a high school honor student and incoming college student who wanted to be an attorney, family members said. She had just left a tutoring job when she was killed as she walked home from the train station and across Sunrise on Wednesday night. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
"He doesn't know this pain," Yolanda Silvera said.
As family members held each other and wept in the courthouse hallway, many also spoke angrily of the accused driver.
"She had dreams, and for this guy to do this to her, he wasn't even paying attention," said Tynielle Silvera's sister, Leasa, 15, as she was supported by a loved one. "She was supposed to come home."
Serwan, 46, a computer database manager from Lindenhurst, was driving a Chevy SUV east about 8:30 p.m. when he struck Silvera in a crosswalk at County Line Road, Suffolk police said.
There were several witnesses to the accident, but whether Serwan had the green light remained under investigation, said Det. Lt. Robert Edwards of the First Squad.
Serwan told officers "he was driving and didn't have enough time to avoid the pedestrian," according to court documents.
Suffolk district attorney spokesman Robert Clifford said Serwan refused to take a breath test at the scene but voluntarily gave blood at 10:58 p.m. for an alcohol test. Test results were not available Thursday.
"The case will be presented to a Suffolk County grand jury, which will consider upgraded charges," Clifford said.
Serwan works for a software company in New York City and coaches in a youth soccer league in Lindenhurst, said his attorney, Joel Salinger of Mineola. Salinger denied his client refused the breath test, but declined to comment further.
Serwan pleaded not guilty and remained in jail late Thursday on $100,000 cash bail. In 1992, he pleaded guilty in Nassau to driving while impaired, a violation, and paid a $300 fine. He has no known criminal record, officials said.
Outside court, Kevaughn Hammond, 19, Tynielle Silvera's boyfriend, said, "There shouldn't be bail. He took away someone's life. She didn't even live her life."
Sunrise Highway was the second most deadly state road for pedestrians between 2006 and 2008, according to an analysis of federal transportation data, accounting for 10 deaths.
The state's worst rated road - Hempstead Turnpike - had 13 fatalities. There were three pedestrian deaths on Sunrise Highway in Suffolk last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Ryan Lynch, senior planner with the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, which did the analysis, called Sunrise "an incredibly hostile environment for pedestrians."
"These are very heavily walked roads," Lynch said of Sunrise and Hempstead Turnpike. "They go through a lot of downtowns."
With Keith Herbert