Police: Driving instructor drove drunk with students in car before crash

<p>A driving instructor from Ridge is accused of driving drunk and taking his teenage students on a frightening ride.&nbsp;</p>

News 12 Staff

Oct 7, 2018, 10:17 AM

Updated 2,059 days ago

Share:

A driving instructor from Ridge is accused of driving drunk and taking his teenage students on a frightening ride. 
Police say 58-year-old Russell Cohen, of Ridge, was drunk while he was giving a driving lesson around 11 a.m. Saturday.
Lila Mabanta, of Holtsville, says she’s lucky to be safe after the ordeal. The 16-year-old says she was in the car with Cohen and three other students when they noticed he was acting strangely.
She says the teens in the car pretended they were hungry, and asked to stop for food at McDonald's in Centereach. All four students ran inside the restaurant and dialed 911.
Authorities say that Cohen took off, driving more than 10 miles to the east before crashing into another car in Ridge. The crash sent a Shoreham woman to the hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.
Cohen was charged with aggravated DWI and endangering the welfare of a child.
Cohen works for Suffolk Auto Driving School, which is contracted by Suffolk County Community College. News 12 reached out to the driving school for comment and is awaiting a response.
News 12 went to Cohen's Ridge home for comment, but was asked to leave by a woman there.
Mabanta notes that she and the students may have escaped injury.
"I'm happy we reacted the way we did, especially because he got into a car crash right afterwards. We could've been a part of that," Mabanta says.
Her mother agrees.
"I'm just so thankful that the kids were smart enough to get themselves out of that car," says Carla Mabanta.


More from News 12