Richmond Hill mourns teens lost in LI car crash


| tcullen@queenscourier.com |

Four Queens teenagers were killed and another hospitalized after the car they were riding in spun off the Southern State Parkway and split in two.

Christopher Khan, 18, Neal Rajapa, 17, Darian Ramnarine, 18, and Peter Anthony, 18, were killed in the wreckage, but driver Joseph Beer, 17, was able to make it out of the early morning crash that happened on Monday, October 8.

The victims were mainly from South Ozone Park and Jamaica, according to state troopers.

Beer was taken to Winthrop-University Hospital in nearby Mineola, a hospital spokesperson confirmed. She could not, however, release Beer’s condition as the family has requested privacy.

The 2012 Subaru Impreza split in two, police said, with the contents of the car spilling along the side of the road. The car had been heading west on the Southern State near exit 17, at a notoriously dangerous curve, around 3:40 a.m. when it veered off the road.

Beer was driving with a learner’s permit, according to reports. Under state law, someone with just a permit can drive at certain hours with someone who is 21 or older and holds a valid license.

Most of the students graduated from Richmond Hill High School last year, and on the morning of Tuesday, October 9, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott visited the school to address students. A Department of Education spokesperson said grief counselors will be provided to students and staff in order to cope.

Zahid Hassan, a junior at Richmond Hill, said his brother had been with a few of the departed just a few days before.

“They were good kids,” Hassan, 16, said. “I didn’t see them do anything bad.”

Several students still at the high school said they knew Khan well, and all seemed to agree he was a good-spirited person.

“I just hope he’s in a better place,” said Jonathan Espinosa, who said he had a class with Khan last year.

Espinosa said his classmate had been a fun-loving student who was kind to others. It was shocking to hear that Khan had died, Espinosa said, as he is trying to deal with the tragedy.

“It’s hard, but it happens though,” he said. “But that shouldn’t have ever happened.”

Kayla Valentine, a basketball player at the school, said Khan would come in and help coaches during practices. Valentine said Khan was one of the students to graduate last year, but was not sure if he was going to college anywhere.

The 17-year-old senior added that Khan had been a smart student who was always willing and able to help her with school problems.

“He was really nice,” she said. “If I ever had a problem he would talk to me.”

Valentine said she lost a friend less than a year ago to an accident on the Southern State, near the same spot where Khan and his friends perished.

“It’s just weird to me how everything happens that way.”