The horrors of drunken and reckless driving intensified this weekend on local roads.
Even a small, coincidental cluster of sickening tragedies can feel like a crime wave or a plane crash — not for its numbers, but for the shock of seeing blameless people from different communities suddenly sacrificed.
Five people were killed on the Montauk Highway in Quogue on Saturday night when a Nissan Maxima collided head-on with a Toyota Prius. Both drivers died in the crash. In the Prius, it was Farhan Zahid, the 32-year-old Uber driver from Bay Shore. "I can’t even imagine," his wife Hifsa Ahmad, left behind with three young children, told Newsday. "He left us alone."
None of us in her situation could absorb the shock either. Evidently all the man did was go out to perform a legitimate job.
According to police, the Maxima driven by Justin B. Mendez, 22, left the westbound lane before the collision. How and why, and the speed involved, are under investigation.
Passengers in the Prius who died were Michael O. Farrell, 20, of Manhasset; his brother, James P. Farrell, 25, of Manhasset and Ryan J. Kiess, 25, of Manhasset. And Kiess’ girlfriend, Brianna M. Maglio, 22, of Garden City, was critically injured. They did the right thing, too, calling a car for hire on a night when they wanted to go out and have a good time.
Read the names and remember, such promising lives were taken all too soon.
Less than three hours earlier in Queens, near Kennedy Airport, 31-year-old Diana Granobles and her 10-year-old daughter Isabella, of Copiague, were killed when their Chevrolet Cruze was struck by a Nissan Altima driven by Tyrone Absolam, 42, of Jamaica, Queens, the NYPD said. He was taken into custody and charged with manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, assault and driving while intoxicated, authorities said.
Also reported injured were Absolam's passengers, including a 12-year-old boy, a 16-year-old girl, and a 38-year-old woman.
As if that weren’t enough, within two hours of the Quogue catastrophe, a three-vehicle crash sent one of the vehicles over the side of the Farmingville overpass. Injuries were reportedly minor in that one. Priscilla Torres, 39, was charged early Sunday with driving while intoxicated.
Nationally, there are numbers that tell part of the story but don't suggest answers. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were 36,096 souls lost in motor vehicle crashes in 2019. According to the University of California, Davis, the same year brought 39,707 deaths from firearms.
Vehicles can be weapons in the hands of the heedless. In such cases, the road spares no one. Remember it always — along with those we lost.
MEMBERS OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD are experienced journalists who offer reasoned opinions, based on facts, to encourage informed debate about the issues facing our community.