This story was reported by David M. Schwartz, Nicole Fuller and Laura Figueroa. It was written by Schwartz
An ascendant political career and upcoming marriage. A life focused on motherhood. Dedication to succeeding in a new country. A loving 10-year-old.
Four young people killed in Sunday’s crash on the Long Island Expressway had lives unfolding in front of them. Hours afterward, a fifth victim, Isidore Adelson, 81, of Westhampton, died, leaving his wife, Helen, who had been in the car with him, in critical condition, police said.
Scott Martella, the communications director for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, and brother and sister Carmelo Pinales of Hicksville and Patricia Pinales of Westbury died in the collision that left debris strewn across the highway. Carmelo Pinales’ son died hours later.
Among the six people injured in the crash are Martella’s fiancee, Shelbi Thurau, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries, and Marvin Tenzer, 73, the former president of the East End Eruv Association who in 2011 sued three East End governments alleging that officials had blocked their efforts to create an eruv — a symbolic religious border — in the Westhampton Beach area.
Martella, 29, of Northport, had been an aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for more than four years. He was a rising star in Suffolk County politics with an easy smile and desire for public service, officials said. Martella got engaged to Thurau last year, with a wedding planned for next year. They had known each other since they were 14.
Martella graduated from Smithtown High School and Boston University. At 22, he became the youngest school board member in the history of Smithtown schools. He was elected to the school board in 2009 and became vice president after working on the State Senate campaign of Democrat Brian X. Foley.
“Scott always had a great smile and a way about him, where he always looked to help people,” Foley said Sunday. “He had his whole future ahead of him.”
Cuomo, in a statement, called Martella “a dedicated, beloved public servant” who “was always full of big ideas to help solve the toughest challenges of the day.”
Martella joined the Suffolk executive’s staff “because I admired his intelligence, his wisdom and love of community and people,” Bellone said in a statement. “I will miss Scott’s smile, his advice, his laugh, his sense of humor, his dedication and his drive.”
Suffolk Democratic Chairman Richard Schaffer recalled Martella sharing stories of walking for Senate candidate Todd Kaminsky earlier this year, laughing about getting chased off lawns and heckled by voters.
“He was a pro before he should’ve even been a pro,” Schaffer said, adding “it’s like we’ve lost one of our family members.”
Bob Rossi, who served with Martella on the Smithtown school board and whose son Chris graduated from high school with him, called Martella “a fun kid to be around.”
Patricia Pinales, 27, and her brother Carmelo Pinales, 26, who police said was driving the car that lost control and hit the others, came to the United States from the Dominican Republic about a decade ago, said uncle Federico Pinales of Freeport.
Speaking from Stony Brook University Hospital, where the family gathered to comfort one another, Federico Pinales described the siblings as family-oriented and hard-working — Patricia studied to become a medical assistant and Carmelo held three jobs as a restaurant worker.
“These were good kids who were brought up with old values,” Federico Pinales said. “They were always focused on their families.”
The night before the crash, the family reunited in Freeport to celebrate a cousin’s graduation, and both Carmelo and Patricia would routinely circle the room, giving hugs to their relatives.
“It’s like they sensed something was going to happen, because all night, every couple of minutes, they would all come up to me and give me hugs,” Federico Pinales said.
Antero Pinales, the grandfather of Carmelo’s 10-year-old son, Cristopher, said his grandson was loving and polite.
Pamela Rodriguez of Deer Park said her friend Patricia Pinales was focused on her family, especially her 3-year-old daughter, who survived the crash.
Crying as she mourned her friend, Rodriguez, 27, said the two met through mutual friends in Hempstead and used to go out together when they were younger.
“She was very outgoing,” Rodriguez said. “She was a party girl, but after she had her daughter, she put that aside and everything was for her daughter.”
Patricia Pinales recently moved to Westbury from Brooklyn, where the girl’s father lives, and had returned from a vacation in Puerto Rico in the past few days.
“It’s extremely sad,” Rodriguez said of Patrica Pinales’ 3-year-old daughter being left without her mother. “But I know she has a good dad. That’s the only thing — that she has a good dad and he’ll do anything he can for her. She’ll be well taken care of. But now she has to grow up without a mom.”
Cristopher Pinales’ name was misspelled in a previous version of this story.