A minivan drove several miles the wrong way on the Long Island Expressway before crashing early Monday morning, killing a male passenger in the vehicle. And police are now saying that the wreck may have been alcohol-related.
Around 4:45 a.m. the Syosset Fire Department, along with the Plainview Fire Department and Nassau County police, responded to a crash on the eastbound Long Island Expressway just past Exit 44 (Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway).
A minivan was driving westbound in the eastbound HOV lane when it struck a sign abutment.
Mauricio Visoso-Ornelas, 28, of Queens, was transported to Nassau University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead by hospital staff at 5:28 a.m.
According to a source, Suffolk County police witnessed the minivan, a 2008 Chrysler Town and Country, going the wrong way near Exit 50 on the LIE and tried to apprehend the vehicle prior to the accident. Following the crash, the driver, who police identified as Juan J. Cruz, 27, of 210 Adams St. in Deer Park, was able to exit the vehicle on his feet and apparently told cops that a second passenger was missing.
A lengthy search ensued with fire and police personnel attempting to find another passenger in the woods. But at 10:15 a.m. an unidentified officer at the scene told Syosset Patch that the search had ceased and that apparently there wasn't a third person in the minivan. Vehicles were still being diverted off the LIE between Exits 44 and 45 as an investigation continued.
The Syosset Fire Department spokesperson referred all questions to the Nassau County Police Department, who just after 11 a.m. confirmed that Cruz had been arrested.
Late in the day Cruz was officially charged with second-degree manslaughter, second-degree vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving and driving while intoxicated. He will be arraigned at First District Court in Hempstead Tuesday.
The vehicle is registered to the defendant.