Police: Driver high on drugs kills reverend in Southern State crash

Posted: Updated:
MERRICK -

Police say a North Baldwin man killed a Long Island reverend while driving high on drugs.

The two-car crash happened just after midnight on the Southern State Parkway, near Exit 30 in North Massapequa. Police say Christopher Gomez-Almendarez, 23, rear-ended an SUV, sending it into nearby trees.

Rev. Chacko Mammen, 69, of North Bellmore, was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital and died of his injuries.

Gomez-Almendarez was arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter and driving while impaired by drugs. Prosecutors say he admitted to using drugs before the crash.

Mammen was a reverend at Mar Thoma Church in Merrick. Parishioners say he'll never be forgotten. Mammen was scheduled to help with prayer services Friday and had ministered at Mar Thoma Thursday night. His final message, according to parishioners, was that faith, family and personal character are paramount.

Friends says Mammen's wife was also in the car at the time of the crash. News 12 is told she's recovering at a hospital.

Gomez-Almendarez was held on $500,000 bond. Last week, prosecutors say he was arrested on a heroin possession charge.

  • SlideshowsGalleriesMore>>

  • Yankees in the 2019 Playoffs

    Yankees in the 2019 Playoffs

    New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia throws against the Houston Astros during the 10th inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Houston.New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia throws against the Houston Astros during the 10th inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Houston.
    New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia throws against the Houston Astros during the 10th inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Houston.New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia throws against the Houston Astros during the 10th inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Houston.
    Photos on the field of the New York Yankees in the 2019 American League Division Series vs. the Minnesota Twins.
    Photos on the field of the New York Yankees in the 2019 American League Division Series vs. the Minnesota Twins.
  • Your Long Island Fall Fun Photos

    Your Long Island Fall Fun Photos

    Monday, October 7 2019 12:12 PM EDT2019-10-07 16:12:23 GMT
    Fall FunFall Fun
    Fall FunFall Fun
    Are you and your family doing fun things this fall? Whether you're out apple or pumpkin picking, at a farm or corn maze or just hanging around in your home or yard, News 12 Long Island wants to see your Fall Fun pics!
    Are you and your family doing fun things this fall? Whether you're out apple or pumpkin picking, at a farm or corn maze or just hanging around in your home or yard, News 12 Long Island wants to see your Fall Fun pics!
  • Your Kids Corner Photos

    Your Kids Corner Photos

    Looking for something fun to do with the kids this weekend? News 12 has you covered.Looking for something fun to do with the kids this weekend? News 12 has you covered.
    Looking for something fun to do with the kids this weekend? News 12 has you covered.Looking for something fun to do with the kids this weekend? News 12 has you covered.
    Did you do something fun with your kids this weekend? Share your adventure with us!
    Did you do something fun with your kids this weekend? Share your adventure with us!
sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."