MANORVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Family members were searching for answers a day after a crash on the Long Island Expressway took the lives of six people – including former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a father, his young son and the boy’s aunt.
Sources said evidence suggests that the driver who lost control and caused the crash was going 100 mph.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, three others late Monday also remained hospitalized after the crash, which happened just after 9:30 a.m. Sunday near exit 68 in Manorville. A day later, everyone was asking the same question – how did one car end up on the wrong side of the LIE and cause such a terrible loss of life?
Authorities believe 26-year-old Carmelo Pinales of Hicksville was speeding as he headed east on the LIE when he lost control of his Subaru Outback, crossed the median and went airborne, crashing into a BMW and a Honda that were traveling westbound.
“There is some road work in that area and there is, up on the bridge, there’s some steel plates on the road and it’s possible that the driver was alarmed by the change in surface,” Suffolk County Chief of Detectives Gerard Gigante told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams. “Or, it appears he was traveling at a high rate of speed, may have over braked.”
The impact killed Pinales and his 27-year-old sister, Patricia Pinales. His 10-year-old son, Cristopher, and two others in the Subaru, a 21-year-old passenger and Patricia’s 3-year-old daughter, Analia Ramirez, were all taken to the hospital.
Christopher later died of his injuries, police said.
Relatives were trying to hold it together for the toddler.
“This is a special family because we don’t have money, but we are millionaires in heart in discipline and character,” said uncle Frederico Pionales.
Domingas Pinales, the mother of Carmelo and Patricia Pinales, was devastated following the crash.
“She feels bad about what happened — not only to her family; the other family too they were driving along and then this happened,” an interpreter said for Domingas Pinales.
The driver of the Honda, 29-year-old Scott Martella, was also killed. His fiancé, 29-year-old Shelbi Thurau, was injured. Martella was a former aide to Cuomo and the communications director for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
A passenger in the BMW, 81-year-old Isidore Adelson, was taken to a hospital, where he also succumbed to his injuries late Sunday. His wife, Helen Adelson, 71, also died Monday from injuries in the crash.
Helen and Itchy, as he was best known to friends, were with another couple — Marvin and Sandy Tenzer — driving to a wedding in New Jersey at the time of the accident. The Tenzers were also injured and hospitalized.
Patricia Pinales’ daughter is expected to undergo surgery at Stony Brook University Hospital, 1010 WINS’ Samantha Liebman reported.
“Some of the serious and critically injured patients obviously are not in a state where they are aware of what occurred yet,” James Vosswinkel, chief of surgery Stony Brook University Hospital, told CBS2’s Magdalena Doris.
The Pinales family shared heartbreaking Snapchat video with CBS2. It was posted 15 minutes before the fatal crash. A carefree Patricia Pinales was seated next to her nephew Christopher – as they headed to a water park. Carmelo Pinales is seen behind the wheel.
The family believes the video shows Carmelo Pinales was not driving recklessly. They pointed out the rain, and they suspect it was a factor along with the condition of the road.
“There was a bump in the road and there’s bump signs there, but also it was raining,” said Liliana Hart, the Pinales’ cousin.
Pinales’ driving record is clean, and family members were unable to explain witness reports that he was speeding.
But sources told CBS2 the accident scene suggests Pinales was traveling 100 mph.
But emergency responders said temporary construction bumps in the road did not help matters. The bumps are marked with a warning sign, and Pinales lost control and went airborne just after passing them eastbound.
The New York State Department of Transportation said the bumps are designed to withstand highway speed and that they were set to be removed next week.
Meanwhile, friends family and colleagues were also mourning the other victims killed in the crash. Bellone issued a statement about his communications director Martella, who was driving on cruise control with his girlfriend when they were struck.
“The hundreds of people Scott has worked with over the years and the thousands of people whose lives he has positively impacted would describe him as nothing short of an amazing person,” Bellone said in a statement.
Bellone credited Martella with saving his girlfriend’s life in the accident.
“The randomness of this — seeing this car coming and Scott swerving, you know, probably saving her life by doing that,” he said.
Cuomo described Martella as being up for any challenge.
“This was a really, really beautiful, beautiful young man. He just loved public service. He loved helping people,” Cuomo said. “It is one of the great great tragedies and there are no words for it.”
“Scott was deeply respected for his strong work ethic, candor and fighting spirit,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Long island is a better place today because of his service and dedication to the community.”
Martella was also a former board member of Long Island Cares, Inc. CEO Paule T. Pachter issued a statement calling Martella “a very bright and dedicated young professional with a passion for politics and a desire to become involved in charitable work on Long Island.”
Meanwhile, as the sun set on the synagogue on Sunset Avenue in Westhampton Beach, members of the congregation who knew Isidore and Helen Adelson well prayed inside — during one of the darkest times he community has ever known.
“Very, very tough,” said Hampton Synagogue member Mel Zgodny.
As CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported, longtime friends of the couple were so heartbroken, they could barely get the words out.
“They were the rock for each other,” said Debbie Hager-Katz. “Wherever you saw the husband, you saw the wife.”
Gene Milanaik was behind the Adelsons as they headed to the wedding in New Jersey.
“I was 10 minutes behind them, and I was stuck in two hours of traffic not knowing why,” Milanaik said.
Isidore Adelson died Sunday night, while his beloved wife of 30 years passed away Monday afternoon.
Friends of the Adelsons could not accept the tragedy that’s left such an empty space here in this holy place.
“This was a needless death,” said synagogue member Bernie Schickman. “You know, a guy driving 100 miles an hour, landing on your car, crossing a divider – you can’t accept it. There will be a huge crowd here on Wednesday morning commemorating their life.”
All three cars involved in the crash have been impounded by police for safety checks.
The investigation into the crash is ongoing.