Darrell Jones Sr. struggles with closure as he searches for answers to what happened in the accident where he lost two sons on Sept. 2 in Mount Sinai. Credit: Morgan Campbell

The cars whizzed by at a steady clip, the roaring often drowning out voices. Aside from a small memorial near a wooded area off County Route 83 and Canal Road, the busy streets held no mark of an auto crash that claimed the lives of brothers Darrius Jones and Darrell Jones II.

For more than two months, Darrell Jones Sr. has journeyed back to the accident scene in Mount Sinai, struggling to re-create the route his sons had driven dozens of times. They knew those roads and turns well. Their mother’s former Cornwallis Court home was only 880 yards from the accident scene.

"I’m gutted to the core. The pain — you can’t describe it because it’s numbing," Darrell Sr., a retired New York City police officer, said about the loss of his sons. "You feel so much pain, and you can’t start a process of healing without having a complete picture of what happened."

Darrius Jones, 16, allegedly was driving at an unsafe speed south on County Route 83 when he ran a red arrow while turning left onto Canal Road at 9:05 p.m. on Sept. 2, according to a Suffolk County Police Department accident report. He collided with a Jeep SUV driven by Alaina Dimaria, of Miller Place.

Less than four hours after the accident, Darrell Sr. said a Suffolk police detective turned to him in the emergency room of Stony Brook University Hospital to tell him his son likely was responsible for the collision. Darrell Sr. pressed for a thorough review, but days later he began to question the scope of the investigation.

"None of this makes sense," Darrell Sr. said. "It says unsafe speed, but nobody can tell me what speed he was traveling. That is a sharp turn. If he was driving fast in that Mustang, he would have spun out."

The dad also wants to know how police know his son went through a red-turn arrow. "How did they determine he turned against the light?" he said.

The accident report, dated Sept. 3, did not specify how fast anyone was driving, and police declined to comment on the extent of the investigation, but said Friday that it is still ongoing.

Darrius made it home to Coram from football practice at Longwood High School sometime after 8 p.m. the day of the accident. Still clad in his football jersey and cleats, he jumped into the 1998 Mustang he received for his 16th birthday the year before and asked his older brother to join him. He had a learner’s permit that only allowed him to drive with an adult in the car.

It was a balmy night and the top was down when the two went for ice cream. The family first learned from Stony Brook University Hospital staff around 10 p.m. that Darrius was seriously injured. They later found out on their own that Darrell II had died.

Darrius allegedly cut in front of Dimaria, 28, who was heading north on County Route 83, according to the accident report. County Route 83, also called Patchogue Mount Sinai, is a four-lane highway that runs north and south from Route 25A to Sunrise Highway, with speed limits of 55 mph.

There have been 14 accidents this year at the intersection of County Route 83 and Canal Road, as of Aug. 31, including nine crashes where people were hurt, according to the state Department of Transportation. Last year, there were 17 crashes, with four of them resulting in injuries. In 2019, there were 15 crashes, and seven of them involved injuries.

Suffolk County, which is responsible for maintaining the roads, did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the intersection.

In the area where the accident occurred, there are six lanes, including turn lanes in each direction, divided by a grassy median. There also are several traffic lights, with separate lights for turning east and west onto Canal Road. Canal Road has one eastbound lane and three westbound lanes, including turn lanes there.

Dad left 'just driving in circles'

Darrell Sr. recently walked to a memorial at the corner of the fatal junction. The names of his sons were imprinted on a sign that read "Drive Safely." A tire from the Mustang, along with a photo of Darrell II and Darrius, several candles, flowers and other mementos, were placed at the site.

"I’ve come around here every single day since the accident, sometimes more than once a day, just driving in circles. I look at the traffic patterns. I look at the lights. I see people driving fast," Darrell Sr. said, holding his younger son’s No. 21 framed football jersey.

"I am going to do this every day until I get answers or I don’t breathe," he added.

Menzel Smith-Jones, Darrell Sr.'s wife and mother of the boys, was too distraught to speak. The couple has a 23-year-old surviving son who lives with them in Coram.

A memorial of Darrius Jones, 16, and Darrell Jones II,...

A memorial of Darrius Jones, 16, and Darrell Jones II, 28, at the accident site in Mount Sinai. Credit: Morgan Campbell

Known as "Spills," Darrius was a senior at Longwood High. His father said he was not only an athlete, but a competitive gamer who consistently beat well-known players on Fortnite. This past summer, he and his dad toured colleges down South.

On the football team, Darrius, who played running back, was known for his buoyant spirit and easygoing personality. His coach, Sean Kluber, posthumously nominated him for the New York Giants' "Heart of a Giant Award," where he is among six finalists in the state.

"He was a bright spot, and he is missed. He was just one of those kids who clicked with everyone. He was very kindhearted and optimistic," Kluber said in an interview. Darrius also previously volunteered as a junior firefighter at the Middle Island Fire Department.

Darrell II, 28, was academically gifted, his family said. He skipped second grade and by age 16 had graduated Longwood High.

"He graduated with every accolade you could find. He spoke fluent French," Darrell Sr. said. He enrolled at Penn State University for engineering, but transferred after two years due to financial constraints, and later obtained an associate degree at Suffolk County Community College, his dad said.

He landed a job as a security manager at Allied Universal in Syosset, where he was a rising star and vying for a promotion, Darrell Sr. said.

"I’m proud of them. They were good dudes," Darrell Sr. said. "I tried to instill good moral character in them."

Several days after Darrell II died, his girlfriend of six years learned she was pregnant with their son.

"That’s the real kicker," Darrell Sr. said, choking up. "He’ll never get to know he was going to be a father."

The other crash victim, Dimaria, was taken to the hospital, where she was treated and released, Suffolk police said. Police declined to say whether toxicology tests were performed. Her Jeep flipped, and the air bags deployed in both vehicles, according to photos published by Newsday.

Police said Dimaria did not show signs of intoxication either at the scene or at the hospital. Dimaria declined to comment through her lawyer, Richard Winkler.

Suffolk police said the medical examiner performed a toxicology test on Darrius, which is often routine. The result was not available.

Darrell Sr. said he was told by hospital staff that Darrius was awake when he arrived at Stony Brook Hospital and complaining of chest pain. He died that night during emergency heart surgery, the dad said. Darrell II was pronounced dead at 9:45 p.m. at Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson.

What to know

As of Aug. 31 this year, there were 14 accidents at the intersection where Darrius Jones and Darrell Jones II were involved in a car crash Sept. 2.

Darrell Jones Sr., a retired New York City police officer, has questions about how the crash investigation was handled by Suffolk County Police.

Darrell Sr. said he will continue driving by the crash site until he finds answers.

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