Firefighter faces aggravated vehicular homicide in fatal Sunken Meadow crash
Prosecutors say Joseph Norris, an FDNY firefighter from Babylon, had a blood alcohol content above .18 before causing a fatal crash on the Sunken Meadow State Parkway in November.
Norris, 38, was arraigned in Riverhead court Wednesday where charges were upgraded against him to aggravated vehicular homicide. He was previously only charged with DWI.
Prosecutors say he was driving recklessly after leaving a strip club in Smithtown and drove the wrong way on the Sunken Meadow, killing 44-year-old Anthony Mariano, a school teacher from Kings Park.
The Suffolk County District Attorney's Office says Norris' BAC was a .29 immediately after the crash when blood was drawn at the hospital.
The victim’s family, friends and fiancée were in the packed courthouse to watch the proceedings. Norris also had family and fellow firefighters inside the courtroom to support him.
Mariano was picking up dinner at the time of the crash. His fiancée says they were supposed to be married last July, but the ceremony was delayed due to COVID-19.
“We love him and miss him and think of him every day – and finally, [Norris has] been charged, the man that killed him,” says Christie Azzolini.
Norris posted $100,000 bail and left the courthouse. He lost both of his legs in the crash.
Attorney Anthony La Pinta called Norris a “really terrific family guy” and a “hardworking fireman” for the last 15 years.
“A hero fireman who received accolades for his work at the Deutsche Bank fire back in 2007, and yet this is another motor vehicle tragedy that has befallen two good people and devastated two families,” says La Pinta.
If convicted of the top count, Norris faces a maximum sentence of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.