The Queens teen who was the sole survivor in last month's fatal parkway crash in West Hempstead, which claimed the life of four of his friends, has been charged with multiple felonies.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced Friday that Joseph Beer, 17, of South Richmond Hill, had marijuana in his system when he lost control of his vehicle on Oct. 8 near the West Hempstead exit of the Southern State Parkway, killing his four passengers. Beer has been charged with multiple felonies after testing positive for marijuana.
A grand jury indictment unsealed Friday against Beer charges him with aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular manslaughter in the first degree, four counts of manslaughter in the second degree, four counts of vehicular manslaughter in the second degree, driving while intoxicated-drugs, reckless endangerment in the second Degree, reckless driving and unlicensed operation of a vehicle. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted and is scheduled to be arraigned later Friday in First District Court in Hempstead.
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Rice said that at approximately 3:35 a.m. on Oct. 8, Beer was driving a 2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI westbound on the Southern State Parkway at speeds estimated at more than 110 miles per hour when he lost control of the vehicle while coming over a rise in the roadway approaching Exit 17.
Beer was unable to negotiate a curve in the road at the bottom of the rise and left the roadway, crashing into the trees along the parkway, Rice said. The impact of the crash ripped the vehicle in half, with the front half of the car located 20 feet away from the impact site.
Killed in the crash were Darian Ramnarine, 18, of Inwood; Peter Kanhai, 18, of South Ozone Park; Neal Rajapa, 17, of South Ozone Park; and Christopher Kahn, 18, of Ozone Park, all of whom were thrown from the vehicle.
Beer, who only possessed a learner’s permit and was not permitted to be driving between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., suffered minor injuries, Rice said. Analysis of a blood sample taken from Beer two hours after the crash tested positive for marijuana.
Beer’s parents, Patricia and Aaditia Beer, were charged with unlicensed operation of a vehicle for knowingly allowing their son to drive without a license. They each face up to 15 days in jail and a fine of $300.
“The sheer magnitude of this tragedy is unthinkable, and it could have easily been avoided if this defendant had simply made the right choice to drive sober and drive safely,” Rice said. “Instead, we have four promising young lives cut short, another young man facing years in prison, and families that will forever be torn apart by this horrific crash.”
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.