CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The maximum sentence was handed down on Tuesday, to the hit-and-run driver whose 2015 crash on Long Island killed three members of a Queens family.
A jury found O’Neil Sharpe Jr. was drunk and racing a friend when he slammed into the car of an innocent family – trapping the father and his two children inside of a vehicle. He then fled the scene.
CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff was in the Central Islip courtroom for Sharpe’s sentencing in the gut-wrenching tragedy.
The fiery crash on the Southern State Parkway in Bay Shore claimed the life of Ancio Ostane, and his young children Sephora and Andi. The three were consumed in a burning car while their frantic mother tried to save them.
“This car started to get set to fire, and I tried to open the passenger’s back door, because this where my daughter was because I heard my daughter cry,” Lucine Bouaz-Ostane said.
She couldn’t bring herself to speak outside of court.
Inside she spoke directly to Sharpe Jr. about the members of the human family he killed.
“I want you to know you have destroyed a sister’s life,” she said.
“This is a devastated woman,” Suffolk County District Attorney, Thomas Spota said.
Prosecutors called Sharpe’s actions cold-blooded and appalling; ‘driving like an idiot at crazy speeds,’ after drinking, racing, playing ‘Russian roulette with everyone else driving on the parkway.’
Among them the Ostane family, they were leaving a summer BBQ.
As they burned, cell phone video showed Sharpe tossing an empty tequila bottle into the woods. Then, he disappeared for hours.
“Here is a family burning to death, screaming, the poor woman crying. He was throwing the evidence of this crime away,” Spota said.
His attorney said the 26-year-old former airport custodian ‘will not ask for forgiveness, because he doesn’t forgive himself.’ In jail he speaks to young people, ‘to make sure this doesn’t happen again.’
This was his fifth crash in six years.
An emotional Judge Fernando Camacho sentenced Sharpe to the maximum — consecutive sentences of 12 to 36 years.
“This was no accident. This was a heinous crime. You cannot use our public roads as a private racetrack,” he said.
The heartbreaking case set off a chorus of calls for harsher penalties for drivers who leave the scene of fatal crashes, but 21 months later the law is the same. There is still an incentive to flee.
The district attorneys for both Nassau and Suffolk counties are still pushing for change.
The friend who drove Sharpe away from the crash scene — Demetri Stewart — pleaded guilty and was sentenced last week to one to three years in prison.