WANTAGH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A minor fender-bender quickly turned to tragedy Tuesday night on Long Island, where two people, including a mother holding her 3-year-old daughter, were killed in a five-car chain reaction crash.

It happened around 11 p.m. Tuesday on the southbound side of the Wantagh State Parkway between Hempstead Turnpike and where it meets the Southern State Parkway in Wantagh.

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Reina Olivera, 33, of West Babylon, was driving a Nissan Murano in the left lane when she rear-ended a Honda CRV, according to New York State Police. 

After both vehicles stopped in the left lane, police said Olivera, who was holding her daughter, and Nicholas Ramirez, who was passenger in the Honda, got out of their cars to inspect the damage.

The two were exchanging information when police said a Toyota Corolla slowed down for the accident, causing a Honda Accord to hit it, as well as Olivera and Ramirez, who were still standing in the roadway, police said.

Witness Tim Hearty was home talking to his wife at the time of the crash. He remembers hearing several sharp bangs and then immediately seeing a flood of cop cars.

“I couldn’t see anything from the front. And then when I went out back you could see through the trees. There were just lights everywhere. I don’t know how but almost immediately there were flashing lights on the parkway,” Hearty said.

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Ramirez was thrown into the northbound lane and was fatally struck by a Jeep Wrangler. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Olivera died at the hospital. Her daughter is in critical condition at Nassau University Medical Center.

“I feel so bad for her, she’s a young beautiful girl,” Olivera’s neighbor said.


The parkway was closed in both directions for several hours. It was reopened around 3 a.m. Wednesday, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported.

The investigation is still ongoing.

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New York State Police advise motorists involved in a crash to pull over to a shoulder or grassy area and call 911.