Joseph Beer, the sole survivor and driver in a car crash that killed four teens last month, was indicted today in Nassau County on multiple counts that, if convicted, could land him up to 25 years in prison.
The Nassau County District Attorney’s office charged Beer 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, reckless endangerment in the second degree, reckless driving and unlicensed operation of a vehicle, according to the Nassau DA.
He was held on $1 million in bail, or $2 million in bonds.
The 17-year-old Richmond Hill High School graduate was driving his 2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI, with only a learner’s permit, in the early hours of October 8 when the car careened off a trick turn of the Southern State Parkway.
Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said Beer had been driving at upwards of 110 miles per hour when the westbound car launched off the highway around 3:45 a.m. near Exit 17.
Darian Ramnarine, 18; Peter Kanhai, 18; Neal Rajapa, 17, of South Ozone Park; and Christopher Kahn, 18 were thrown from the car and killed. Beer survived and was taken to Winthrop University Hospital.
A blood test taken at the hospital showed that Beer did in fact have marijuana in his system at the time of the crash, according to the Nassau DA.
Beer was the only of the five occupants to have been wearing his seat belt, according to state police.
Rice said Beer had made poor judgments, and, as a result, four teens and an entire community had suffered.
“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.”
Beer’s parents, Patricia and Aaditia, were also charged with unlicensed operation of a vehicle for allowing their son to drive without a full driver’s license. It was reported that the pair had bought their son the notoriously fast car for performing well in school.
They can face up to 15 days in jail or a $300 fine if convicted.
The tragedy rattled hard through the tight-knit neighborhood of Richmond Hill last month. Community members rallied together to encourage more responsibility among teens and better communication between parents and their children.