Tags Posts tagged with "Drunk Driving"

Drunk Driving

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Ray Tierney will run for Suffolk County district attorney this November on the Republican and Conservative tickets. Photo from Tierney’s office

Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney announced on Sept. 19 that Leo Flores-Gracias, 26, of Huntington Station, was indicted for Aggravated Vehicular Manslaughter and other related charges, for allegedly driving while intoxicated and crashing into another vehicle, killing his own passenger, Marlon Nunez-Cuellar, 25, of Huntington Station.

“This defendant’s alleged decision to drive while under the influence of alcohol caused the tragic death of Marlon Nunez-Cuellar,” said District Attorney Tierney. “My office will seek justice for the victim and his loved ones, as we continue the push to keep our roadways in Suffolk County safe.”

According to the investigation, on July 4, 2023, at approximately 8:06 p.m., Flores-Gracias and three others left a party where he had allegedly been drinking alcohol and they got into Flores- Gracias’ 2017 Honda Accord. Flores-Gracias allegedly began driving northbound on Sweet Hollow Road in Huntington at a high rate of speed, and crashed head-on into a vehicle that was driving southbound.

Marlon Nunez-Cuellar, one of Flores-Gracias’ passengers, was transported to Plainview Hospital where he was pronounced dead from injuries he sustained in the crash. The operator of the vehicle that was struck head-on, was uninjured.

When police officers arrived at the scene, they noticed that the defendant exhibited indicia of intoxication, and placed him under arrest.

On September 19,  Flores-Gracias was arraigned on the indictment before Acting Supreme Court Justice, the Honorable Steven A. Pilewski, for the following charges:

  •   One count of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, a Class B felony;
  •   One count of Manslaughter in the Second Degree, a Class C felony;
  •   One count of Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree, a Class D felony;
  •   One count of Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated, an Unclassified misdemeanor;
  •   Two counts of Driving While Intoxicated, Unclassified misdemeanors; and
  •   One count of Reckless Driving, an Unclassified misdemeanor.

Justice Pilewski order Flores-Gracias held on $250,000 cash, $500,000 bond or 2.5 million partially secured bond during the pendency of the case. If convicted of the top count, Flores- Garcias faces up to 25 years in prison. Flores-Gracias is due back in court on October 25.

Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon, second from left, with the family of Andrew McMorris, a Boy Scout fatally killed by a drunk driver in 2018. Photo courtesy Toulon's office

Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon (D) recently joined roadway safety advocates to announce a summer campaign targeting drunk driving.

Beginning during the July 4 holiday weekend, Toulon’s Office will increase DWI patrols and checkpoints from Huntington to the East End, continuing these measures throughout the summer in an effort to keep Suffolk’s roadways safe. According to the Sheriff’s Office, its DWI team has already had record-high impaired driving arrests this year, with a nearly 40% increase in DWI/DUI arrests from 2022.

Coined “Operation H.E.A.T.,” the initiative aims to ramp up already heightened efforts to mitigate these increases.  

“The ‘heat’ is on this summer for drunk and drugged drivers in Suffolk County,” Toulon said during a press event Thursday, June 29. “Our deputy sheriffs will be out in full force patrolling the roadways with an eye out for impaired drivers. If you don’t drive sober, you will be pulled over.” 

Joining Toulon was the family of Andrew McMorris, a 12-year-old Boy Scout who was fatally hit by a drunk driver in 2018 while hiking with his Scout troop. The driver in that crash was found guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide and sentenced to 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.

“The Andrew McMorris Foundation asks everyone this summer and always to please make a promise to never drink and drive,” said Alisa and John McMorris of the Andrew McMorris Foundation. “Call a cab, call a friend, save a life, start a trend. You don’t have to be a superhero to save someone’s life. Just take the keys.”

Paige Carbone, regional executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, also attended the meeting. She offered her support for the department initiative, emphasizing the need for stricter enforcement.

“Summer is one of the deadliest times of the year on our highways,” she said. “MADD supports Operation H.E.A.T. and will join the efforts by providing staff and volunteers to participate in checkpoints across the county this summer.” 

The regional director added, “Our mission is to end drunk driving, and MADD encourages alternatives, such as designating a non-drinking driver, rideshares and using public transportation. That can prevent these crimes from happening.”

Toulon also offered these tips:

  • If you are hosting a party, designate a sober driver or arrange alternate transportation to ensure guests get home safely.
  • If you’ve been drinking and don’t have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home, call a taxi or rideshare service or stay for the night. 
  • Take the keys from a friend if you think they are about to drive while impaired. 

For more information on the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, please visit www.suffolksheriff.com.

Prom Night. METRO photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Prom season has arrived. It’s that wonderful, fairy tale time when Cinderella goes to the ball. It’s when fathers suddenly realize that their daughters, beautifully gowned, have now grown up. And mothers are proud to see their tuxedo-wearing sons have become men. The hairstyles, manicures and pedicures are in place, the dress has been selected, the shoes to match, the dangling earrings, the special makeup and perfume—the scene has been set. The tuxes are rented, the flowers selected, the shoes polished, the cummerbunds and bow ties fastened, the haircuts fresh, and they pose for the cameras.  Boys and girls, now ladies and gentlemen, go off in their borrowed or leased coaches for a night of celebratory fun to memories they will create for the rest of their lives. It is a coming-of-age moment.

It is the magical Senior Prom.

There can be a darker side to this brilliant affair. Decades ago, shortly after we started the first newspaper in 1976, prom nights ended with a string of terrible car accidents caused by drunken driving. It was a time when MADD was founded — Mothers Against Drunk Driving. This non-profit organization “seeks to stop drunk driving, support those affected by drunk driving, prevent underage drinking and strive for stricter impaired driving policy, whether that impairment is caused by alcohol or any other drug.” It was a movement founded out of grief by those who had lost their children to horrible accidents. Today, more than 40 years later, there is at least one MADD office in every state.

We, at the newspaper, responded to the crisis on a local level. We wrote a short paragraph pledging that the signer of this petition would think about safety on prom night and not drive drunk. We then placed those words at the top of a sheet of yellow lined paper, carried the pads up to Ward Melville High School toward the end of June, waited outside until an assembly involving the senior class had ended, and asked the seniors as they emerged from the hall to sign on the lines. In return, we promised to reprint that page in the newspaper with their signatures just as they wrote them.

We didn’t know how they would react, of course, whether they would laugh us off and continue to the exit or otherwise ignore us. But they didn’t do either of those. Instead, they lined up to sign. And we wound up, as I recall, with five legal pad pages of signatures. We printed the pages, just as we promised, each full page as a page in the newspaper. That year, there were no accidents.

Not long after, Dorothy Melville, widow of the late philanthropist, called our office and invited me to breakfast at her home in Old Field the next day. I appeared on her doorstep at the appointed time, not a little curious. She greeted me at the kitchen door with a big smile, showed me to a kitchen chair, asked me how I liked my eggs, donned an apron and proceeded to cook. 

When we finished, she stood up, left the room, then returned with her checkbook. She explained how important it was to combat drunk driving, especially among young people who thought driving buzzed was “cool.” She then wrote out a check to The Village Times and smiled as she handed it to me.

“I want you to use the interest from this money to finance those signature pages of students pledging not to drive drunk every year at prom time.”

I looked at the check and was amazed. It was for the sum of $10,000. In today’s money, that would be somewhere between $60,000-$70,000. I stammered my thanks and said something idiotic like, “Can you really do this?” She smiled and nodded, and I left the kitchen.

For years after, we repeated the project. There were no more local car accidents on prom night. Some 45 years later, we ask the same.

Local elected officials and representatives from Uber announced a new initiative called, Long Island Safe Ride, to combat drunk driving during Thanksgiving week Nov. 22. Photo from Sen. Gaughran's office

Thanksgiving Eve remains one of the busiest and deadliest nights of the year for accidents from drunk driving. The holiday sees increases in both drunk driving accidents and fatalities. To combat the issue this Thanksgiving, New York State Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport), Nassau County Executive Laura Curran (D) and Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas joined Uber to announce a new initiative, Long Island Safe Ride, to combat drunk driving during Thanksgiving week. Long Island Safe Ride is a multipronged approach that will combine discounts for rides home with increased law enforcement efforts to deter drinking and driving.

“Long Island Safe Ride is a multifaceted, private-public partnership to remind everyone that drinking and driving have no place on our roadways,” Gaughran said. “This initiative, with discounts on Uber rides and increased law enforcement efforts under the leadership of County Executive Laura Curran and District Attorney Madeline Singas will help ensure our roadways are safe this holiday week.”

Under Long Island Safe Ride, Uber will be offering a $10 discount on rides home for Thanksgiving Eve to prevent driving under the influence. Law enforcement will be launching increased patrols and checkpoints to ensure roadways are safe from intoxicated drivers.

To take advantage of the Uber program, use the code SAFERIDENY19 at the Uber app between 9 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27, to 3 a.m. Thursday morning, Nov. 28. The $10 discount works anywhere in New York State. Uber is picking up the cost.

File photo

Suffolk County police arrested a man for allegedly driving while intoxicated following a crash during which officers had to rescue him from a burning vehicle in Mount Sinai March 9.

Jose Nunez was driving a 1999 Honda CRV westbound on Route 25A at Hallock Avenue when he allegedly lost control of the vehicle, crossed over the median, went over a front lawn and into the 7-Eleven parking lot, located at 1 Route 25A, where the vehicle side-swiped a light pole and crashed into a parked tractor trailer at approximately 2 a.m., according to police. The Honda was stuck in full throttle, and the engine of the SUV caught fire near the fuel cells of the tractor trailer.

Sixth Precinct officers, Port Jefferson EMS members, Mount Sinai Fire Department and Terryville Fire Department responded and found the driver trapped and unconscious. Sergeant Richard Grice used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire near the engine, while officers Jamie Treadwell and Brian Cann used another fire extinguisher to put out the fire near the rear of the vehicle, police said. Officer Chris Weiner, with assistance from fire department members, kept the driver’s airway open until rescuers, including officer Anthony Buonagurio, officer Fred Crasa and officer Thomas Wassmer, were able to use the Jaws of Life tool to cut the vehicle and pull Nunez to safety.

Nunez, who regained consciousness during the rescue, was transported with serious injuries to Stony Brook University Hospital. There was one person in the tractor trailer who was not injured.

Nunez, 25, of Port Jefferson Station, was arrested and charged with allegedly driving while intoxicated. Sixth Squad detectives are continuing the investigation. Anyone with information about the crash can call the 6th Squad at 631-854-8652.

Attorney information for Nunez was not immediately available.

Daryl Richardson mugshot from SCPD

An elderly man had one fracture and a broken bone after being hit by a car in an alleged drunk driving incident Monday afternoon.

According to police, the injured pedestrian, 89-year-old Dix Hills resident Louis Anania, was leaving a McDonald’s restaurant on West Jericho Turnpike in Huntington shortly after 4 p.m. when a westbound Toyota turned left toward the parking lot in front of an eastbound Chevrolet, causing a collision that sent the Chevy off the roadway and into Anania. The man was temporarily pinned between the car and the front of the building.

The Suffolk County Police Department said Anania was treated at Huntington Hospital for a broken collarbone and an open leg fracture.

An open fracture occurs when bone protrudes through a victim’s skin, or when a wound goes deep enough to expose bone.

Police arrested 56-year-old Daryl Richardson, a female Huntington Station resident and the Toyota’s driver, for allegedly driving while intoxicated after being treated for non-life-threatening injuries at Huntington Hospital.

Attorney information for Richardson was not immediately available on the New York State court system’s online database.

The Chevrolet driver, Huntington Station man Brian Davila, was also treated for minor injuries at that hospital and was released, police said.

Police impounded both the Toyota and the Chevrolet for safety checks.

Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is asked to call detectives at 631-854-8252.

Michael Powell mugshot from SCPD

A young man is in serious condition after the car he was riding in crashed into a tree and the driver was arrested for allegedly driving drunk.

The Suffolk County Police Department said the 2002 Subaru was going west on Sunken Meadow Road in Kings Park shortly after 3 a.m. on Sunday when driver Michael Powell, 28, lost control of the car and hit a tree, just east of the intersection with Kohr Road.

Front seat passenger Dennis Clancy, a 24-year-old Kings Park resident, was listed in serious condition at Stony Brook University Hospital, police said.

Powell, of Northport, was charged with driving while intoxicated. It was not clear whether he was hurt in the crash.

Attorney information for the suspect was not immediately available.

Police impounded the Subaru for a safety check.

Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is asked to contact detectives at the 4th Squad at 631-854-8452.

Yokito Yoneyama mugshot from SCPD

A motorcyclist is in critical condition after an allegedly drunk driver crashed into him on Sunday afternoon.

The 2003 Indian motorcycle was going east on North Country Road while a 2002 Subaru Outback was headed west on the same road, and the two collided near Mountain Ridge Drive in Mount Sinai, the Suffolk County Police Department said.

Ronald Starke, the 60-year-old motorcyclist from Mount Sinai, was in critical condition at Stony Brook University Hospital, police said. Yokito Yoneyama, a 36-year-old Rocky Point resident and driver of the Subaru, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated.

Attorney information for the suspect was not immediately available.

Yoneyama was also treated for minor injuries at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson and was released, police said.

The SCPD impounded both the Indian motorcycle and the Subaru for safety checks.

Anyone with information about the crash is asked to contact the investigating detectives at the Major Case Unit at 631-852-6555.

File photo
Rashelle Mann mugshot from SCPD
Rashelle Mann mugshot from SCPD

Police allege a woman was driving drunk and without a license when she got into a crash at a busy intersection near the mall, all with her toddler in the back seat.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, the suspect was driving east on Middle Country Road in a 2006 Nissan Altima on Sunday evening when she made a left turn in front of a 2014 Toyota Rav4, which had been heading west on the same road. The two vehicles collided at the Moriches Road intersection, near Smith Haven Mall.

A 2-year-old boy was in the Nissan at the time of the crash, driver Rashelle Mann’s son, police said. He was evaluated at Stony Brook University Hospital but did not appear injured, according to police. The Toyota’s driver, 20-year-old Hauppauge resident Cindy Tran, was treated at the same hospital for minor injuries.

The mother, a 26-year-old Ronkonkoma resident, was charged with driving while intoxicated and aggravated driving while intoxicated with a child passenger 15 years or younger, a charge commonly referred to as Leandra’s Law. She was also charged with endangering the welfare of a child and aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle.

Attorney information for Mann was not immediately available.

According to police, her son was released to a relative.

Go around me

A 47-year-old man from Asbury Park, N.J., was found in the middle of Old Nichols Road in Islandia just before 5:00 a.m. on Feb. 7, passed out in the driver’s seat of his 2016 Mazda, police said. He was charged with driving while intoxicated.

Marijuana mall

In the parking lot of the Smith Haven Mall just after 7:00 p.m. on Feb. 6, police said a 23-year-old man from Hampton Bays was arrested for possession of marijuana. He was sitting in the driver’s seat of a 2015 Volkswagen. He was charged with criminal possession of marijuana.

Driving drunk with a child

At about 5:00 p.m. on Feb. 6, a 30-year-old woman from Holtsville was driving a Nissan Frontier while drunk with her 5-year-old daughter in the car on Hawkins Avenue in Ronkonkoma, police said. She also had food stolen from Stop&Shop on Portion Road in Ronkonkoma, according to police. She was charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated with a child under the age of 15, endangering the welfare of a child, petit larceny and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. She also violated an order of protection prohibiting her from being under the influence in the presence of her daughter, police said.

Burned

Police arrested a 21-year-old man from Kings Park for having marijuana in his home around midnight on Feb. 5. Police discovered the drugs when they responded to a fire at the home. He was charged with criminal possession of marijuana.

Foul pole

A 24-year-old man from Ronkonkoma was arrested after he crashed his 2000 Honda Civic into a telephone pole on North Country Road in Smithtown at about 5:30 a.m. on Feb. 5, police said. He was charged with operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content over the legal limit.

Mischief on Midwood

At about 2:00 a.m. on Feb. 4, a 22-year-old man from Nesconset was arrested for breaking the window of a home on Midwood Avenue, police said. He was charged with criminal mischief.

Dodge couldn’t dodge police

A 42-year-old man from Lindenhurst was arrested on Feb. 4 in Islandia and charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle. Police said he was driving on Veterans Memorial Highway just before 9:00 p.m. in a 2002 Dodge when they discovered he was driving with a revoked license.

Swerving SUV

At about 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 4, a 53-year-old man from Smithtown was stopped by police for failing to stay in his lane while driving his 2004 GMC Envoy on Veterans Memorial Highway in Hauppauge, police said. He was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated.

Ha-Sheesh

Police arrested a 17-year-old man from Smithtown and charged him with criminal possession of a controlled substance at 11:00 a.m. on Feb. 3. Police said he had hashish and THC oil when he was arrested on Lincoln Blvd. in Hauppauge.

Heroin arrest

A 27-year-old man from Shirley was arrested in the parking lot of Woodmont Village Apartments in Lake Ronkonkoma at about 11:00 p.m. on Feb. 3 with heroin on him, police said. He was charged with loitering and unlawful use of a controlled substance.

Long Island arrest-way

A 47-year-old man from Kings Park was arrested on Feb. 6 at 9 a.m. after police said he was driving a 1998 Subaru on the Long Island Expressway in Dix Hills while on prescription pills without a prescription. He was charged with seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, first-degree operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs and second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

High up on the lake

On Feb. 6, a 46-year-old man from Centerport was arrested after police said he had marijuana in his possession at 5:25 p.m. on the corner of Main Street and Lakeside Drive in Centerport. He was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana.

Quite a couple

Police said a 23-year-old man from Hicksville and a 22-year-old woman from Massapequa had cocaine in their possession at 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 6 on the corner of New York Avenue and West 21st Street in Huntington Station. They were both charged with seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, unlawful use of a controlled substance and loitering.

Corner of oh no and trouble

A 20-year-old man from Huntington was arrested on the corner of 11th Avenue and West 21st Street in Huntington Station on Feb. 6 at 5:15 p.m. after police said he had marijuana in his possession. He was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana.

But she got a fake ID

Police said a 39-year-old woman from Brooklyn used a fraudulent credit card and identification while shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue on Walt Whitman Road in Huntington on Feb. 5. According to police, the woman used two fraudulent credit cards just after 4 p.m. and tried to impersonate the woman using a fraudulent driver’s license to open a new credit card. She was charged with fourth degree grand larceny, second-degree criminal impersonation of another person, second-degree forgery of public record, and second-degree possession of a forged instrument.

Jewelry gone

An unknown person broke into a residence on Andrea Lane in Greenlawn on Feb. 5 between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., and stole jewelry.

RIP GMC

Police said an unknown person punctured the tires of a 2002 GMC parked on Jericho Turnpike in Elwood on Feb. 5 between 5:50 and 6:20 p.m.

Oh, boy!

Police arrested two 17-year-olds from Port Jefferson Station for petit larceny on Feb. 6. The pair allegedly stole Playboy cologne from the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove a month earlier, on Jan. 7. The teens were arrested at the McDonald’s fast-food restaurant on Nesconset Highway in Port Jefferson Station.

What a saint

On Feb. 7, police arrested a woman from Mastic Beach for grand larceny. The 33-year-old woman stole a wallet from another woman’s pocketbook that day at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, police said. The wallet contained several credit cards. She was arrested at the scene, around 10:05 p.m.

Shopping spree

A 17-year-old girl from Centereach was arrested on Jan. 31 for petit larceny after officials said she entered the Walmart on Nesconset Highway in East Setauket and stole assorted makeup and bath products. Police arrested her at the scene at 7 p.m.

Welcome home

Between 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 1, someone entered a residence on Jarvin Road in Port Jefferson Station and stole cash and jewelry.

Route to handcuffs

Police arrested a man from Patchogue for driving while ability impaired on the afternoon of Feb. 5. He had been driving east on Route 25A in Stony Brook when an officer pulled him over for speeding. Police allegedly discovered the man was intoxicated and driving with a suspended license.

Fight to the finish

On Jan. 31 around 1:45 p.m., two men got into a fight on Route 25A in Port Jefferson. Police said the men were in the street when one of them punched the other in the face. The victim refused to go to the hospital.

Green-thumbed thief

Someone entered the property of a residence on East Gate Drive in Mount Sinai and stole a Japanese maple tree planted in the yard. Police said the incident happened between 6 p.m. on Feb. 2 and 6:30 a.m. on Feb. 3.

The rest is history

Police said someone broke the door lock and latch of the Miller Place Historical Society building between noon on Feb. 4 and 1:45 p.m. the following day.

Bang bang into the room

On Feb. 4 around 9 p.m., someone shot a BB gun at a residence on Longview Avenue in Rocky Point. A pellet left a small hole in the window.

Weekend allowance

An unknown person stole a purse from a 2012 Hyundai parked outside a residence on Hawkins Road in Centereach between 6 p.m. on Feb. 6 and 9:30 p.m. the following day. It was unclear whether the suspect broke into the car or if it had been left unlocked.

Gold digger

On the morning of Feb. 4, a woman at home on Middle Country Road in Selden received a scam call from someone posing as a federal employee of the Internal Revenue Service. The unidentified person told the woman that she would be charged if she didn’t send money. Police said the victim sent more than $1,000 to the caller.

According to police, a woman on Glen Court in Stony Brook received a scam call on Feb. 5 from a man who claimed to be her grandson and asked her for money. The woman sent more than $3,000 to the man.

The Rite to remain silent

A 32-year-old man was arrested for petit larceny on Feb. 7. Police said the Middle Island man took electronic items from the Rite Aid on College Road in Selden. He was arrested at the scene.

Sight for sore eyes

Police arrested a woman from Centereach for assault on Feb. 3, after she allegedly punched another woman in the face and injured her right eye on North Coleman Road. Police said the victim required medical attention.

And you’re out

On Feb. 2 at 7:56 p.m., police arrested a man for driving while ability impaired. According to officials, the man was unconscious when he crashed his 2001 Toyota into another car in a parking lot near Route 347 in Stony Brook. Police said the man had overdosed on heroin and was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital.