DIX HILLS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A funeral service was held Tuesday for a former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo killed in Sunday’s deadly crash on the Long Island Expressway.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, the funeral came as new details emerged about the condition of the roadway where the crash happened early Sunday – leaving a total of six people dead.
Hundreds attended the funeral for Scott Martella, 29, in Dix Hills, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.
Martella, who most recently was the communications director for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, was one of six people killed when a car flew over the median of the expressway and slammed into two vehicles Sunday morning near exit 68 in Manorville.
Martella’s fiancée, 29-year-old Shelbi Thurau, was injured. The two were coming home from a weekend in Greenport when their car was struck. They had known one another since they were 14, and planned to marry in April of next year.
More than 1,200 mourners packed into the funeral service for Martella.
“There was so much hope for him,” said said Town of Babylon Supervisor Richard Schaffer. “He was one of the real bright stars.”
Bellone and Cuomo both issued statements mourning Martella’s loss.
“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.
“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. Chief executive officer 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.”
Martella’s friends and family have set up a memorial fund to cover the costs related to the funeral, bereavement, medical, and legal costs.
Meanwhile Tuesday, cars continued to traverse two bumps on the LIE where the accident happened – temporary steel plates covered by tapered asphalt – which appeared in a construction zone two months ago.
“We were concerned from the very beginning when they first put the plate there – it was a metal plate with the word ‘bump,’ and it wasn’t just a bump,” a driver said.
“You go up,” another woman said, waving her hand up and down to demonstrate.
“It’s almost like a speed bump in the middle of the highway,” a third driver said. “It’s definitely dangerous.”
The bumps are now part of the investigation into the crash.
Police said witnesses saw Carmelo Pinales, 26, of Hicksville speeding and weaving with his son, Christopher, 10; his sister, Patricia Pinales, 27; a 21-year-old passenger, and Patricia’s 3-year-old daughter, Analia Ramirez. Witnesses said Carmelo Pinales then came up too fast on slower traffic and swerved.
Carmelo, Patricia and Christopher Pinales were all killed in the crash, while the others were hospitalized.
Some motorists said the bumps in the road are jarring even at normal speeds.
“At 60 miles an hour; at 55 miles an hour, they are not safe,” said construction worker Matt Gallo. “My truck goes almost airborne at those speeds.”
Snapchat video posted before the Pinaleses’ car veered out of control shows a calm carefree scene on the way to a water park. The family believes it proves Carmelo Pinales, behind the wheel, was not driving recklessly.
But the Department of Transportation told CBS2 the plates are only two inches high – typical on highways – with four times the normal lead-up to support speeds of 70 mph. Warning signs have also been mounted to alert drivers.
A spokesman for AAA Northeast also suspects excessive speed was to blame from the crash, and not bumps in the road.
Mourners on Tuesday called the incident an avoidable tragedy.
“People have got to slow down and be more responsible,” Schaffer said. “You’re not the only person on the road.”
Sources told CBS2 the accident scene suggests Carmelo Pinales may have been speeding as fast as 100 miles an hour.
Friends said ironically, Martella was driving the speed limit on cruise control when he was killed – something he always did to obey the law.
A funeral for two other victims — Isidore and Helen Adelson — will be held Wednesday at their synagogue in Westhampton. The Adelsons were with another couple — Marvin and Sandy Tenzer — driving to a wedding in New Jersey at the time of the accident.
The Tenzers remain hospitalized, but are expected to make a full recovery.