Fugitive from 1999 fatal crash arraigned in Suffolk

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CENTRAL ISLIP -

A man on the run since a fatal 1999 crash was arraigned on manslaughter charges today for allegedly driving drunk, crashing and leaving his friend behind to die in a burning car.

Prosecutors say Wilson Pantosin's Dodge Neon hit a tree, flipped over and burst into flames 19 years ago in East Hampton. They say Pantosin got out of the car and told the responding police officers that he was driving alone. His friend was still inside of the burning car, however.

Pantosin was charged with drunken driving and released on $1,000 bail back in 1999, but prosecutors say he fled to Ecuador.

The charges were upgraded to manslaughter a few years later. Police in Texas recently alerted Suffolk County police that Pantosin was living in the Houston area.

Officers with Suffolk's Fugitive Squad arrested him Wednesday and brought him back to Long Island.

If convicted of the top count against him, Pantosin would face a maximum of five to 15 years in prison. He's now being held without bail at the Suffolk County Jail.

Prosecutors say Pantosin's blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit at the time of the crash.

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