Driver who killed boy gets 1 1/2 years after plea deal

A driver with a suspended license who struck and killed a 12-year-old will spend 1 1/2 years behind bars following a plea deal.

Austin Soldano, of Seaford, pleaded guilty to driving with a twice-suspended license when he killed Zachary Ranftle. The boy was crossing the street in Valley Stream last December when he was struck.

The judge could only sentence Soldano to six months in prison for the crash that killed Ranftle. Soldano also received a one-year sentence for a previous DWI. The sentences will be consecutively served.

The child's mother is demanding changes to what she calls lax state laws. 

"Something needs to be done, it can't continue with no responsibility, it's just not enough, it's not strong enough," says Kathleen Flood.

Acting Nassau DA Madeline Singas also says the laws aren't tough enough.

"The sentence is woefully inadequate, the laws are woefully inadequate, and they have to change," says Singas.

The state Senate has passed legislation allowing felony charges for suspended drivers who kill or injure someone, but the state Assembly refuses to vote. State Sen. Carl Marcellino, whose Angelica's Law bill passed the Senate, is hopeful changes in the Assembly could lead to the legislation finally moving forward.

"We're going to pass the bill again because we believe in it," says Marcellino.


Long Beach Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, a member of the transportation committee, promises to make progress on "beefing up" penalties for unlicensed drivers.

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