MIDDLE ISLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Police say the driver of the stolen car crashed into another car – killing a couple in their 70’s on their way home.
A teenage passenger in that stolen car also died in the wreck.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Weingarten family in this tragic, tragic accident,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said Sunday afternoon.
74-year-old Jerome Weingarten and his 71-year-old wife, Randee, of Middle Island died in their car right around the corner from their home.
The couple had recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, according to family members who declined to go on camera.
Authorities say the tragedy unfolded just before midnight Saturday, as the couple was turning from Route 25 onto Birchwood Park Drive.
A police chase ended in a crash in Middle Island. Three people were killed. (credit: CBS2)The Weingartens were struck by the vehicle police say had been stolen Thursday in East Patchogue. The suspect had also switched the car’s plates.
A Suffolk County officer said he saw the car, with three teenagers inside, run a stop sign in Yaphank and gave chase.
“The officer, who believed the driver was under the influence because he failed to maintain his lane of travel, attempted to pull over the vehicle but the driver refused to stop,” Commissioner Hart added.
The officer pursued the stolen car for more than five miles before the crash.
One passenger in fleeing vehicle, 19-year-old Angelo Belford, died in the collision.
His 17-year-old half-brother, Nahriek Belford, has been identified by police as the driver. He’s been charged with reckless endangerment and more charges are expected to follow.
Belford was hospitalized along with a second passenger, 16-year-old Jaquell Funderburke.
Some residents in the area are questioning police procedure, wondering if the chase should have been abandoned before it ended in tragedy.
“Please know that the department is undergoing an internal investigation as well as the external investigation that’s being conducted by major cases,” Hart said.
Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is asked to call Suffolk County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.