Charges upgraded for driver in fatal SSP crash
An alleged drunken driver accused of causing a crash that killed a father and his two daughters on the Southern State Parkway faced upgraded charges Thursday.
O'Niel Sharpe Jr., 24, of Rockville Centre, now faces aggravated vehicular homicide charges.
Prosecutors say Sharpe was drunk and driving at speeds of up to 130 mph when he slammed into the back of a car carrying the Ostane family from Queens. The children's mother survived the crash.
"While she survived this crash, she had to watch in horror...as her husband and children were trapped in their car, screaming for help, consumed by fire, and ultimately burned to death," says Suffolk District Attorney Tom Spota.
At the arraignment, Spota played a cellphone video that he says shows Sharpe throwing away a tequila bottle into the woods. The bottle was later recovered by investigators.
Demetri Stewart, who allegedly drove Sharpe away from the scene, was also arraigned today. Officials say Stewart helped Sharpe flee the crash scene.
Sharpe's attorney John Manley says his client was not intoxicated, not driving recklessly and did not leave the scene of the accident with any ill intentions.
Both Sharpe and Stewart are due back in court Oct. 1.