NEW YORK (CBS 2) – The Suffolk County man accused in a deadly wrong way crash faced a judge Tuesday.
Juan Cruz, 27, of Deer Park, pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree manslaughter, reckless driving, and driving while intoxicated. Cruz is being held on $150,000 bond or $75,000 cash.
Cruz was Mauricio Visoso Ornelas’ life-long friend and was behind the wheel when he allegedly crashed into a concrete abutment on the Long Island Expressway near Exit 45 going 80 m.p.h.
Tomas Sanchez Jr. remembered his brother-in-law as the devoted father of three little girls.
“He was the best father in my eyes, Sanchez Jr. said, oldest one is 10, next one is 6, the other is 5…a big nightmare for them,” Sanchez Jr. told CBS 2′s John Metaxas.
“How he must feel with his guilt that he killed his friends,” Sanchez Jr. asked.
Cruz was first spotted going the wrong way in Suffolk County by Exit 53. Several calls came in to 911 and police said Cruz drove a full 11 miles the wrong way in an HOV lane before crashing.
His preliminary blood alcohol content measured .19 at the scene – more than double the legal limit.
“His indication was he had no idea where he was going. He said he was going home to Deer Park. Obviously, he missed that exit,” Nassau Detective Sgt. Richard Laursen said.
Cruz said nothing as he was led from police headquarters to court for his arraignment today — leaving his lawyer to do the talking.
“As frequent as these types of cases are, they’re always tragic, They always destroy families,” Cruz’s lawyer John Carman said.