The charges related to a crash were upgraded this week for one 23-year-old man from the incorporated village of Bellport in Suffolk County on Long Island's South Shore.
Back in February, prosecutors allege that the man was speeding in a stolen vehicle and stoned on pot when he caused a chain-reaction collision that involved four vehicles and killed five.
Immediately following his apprehension after the wreck, the driver was charged with multiple offenses. He entered a "not guilty" plea to charges of false personation and criminal possession of stolen property. He also was arrested for a warrant that was outstanding at the time of the crash.
This week, the driver was arraigned on felony charges that included assault, murder, manslaughter and aggravated vehicular homicide. His lawyer contends prosecutors lack evidence to substantiate the charges his client faces and referred to the deadly wreck as a "horrible accident."
It is not known whether those who were injured in the February accident or the survivors of the five who died have filed lawsuits against the defendant in the New York civil court system.
While it is not necessary that criminal charges arise out of a wreck for a civil suit to prevail for the plaintiffs, these new charges may indeed bolster any subsequent litigation that may be filed as a result of the devastating accident.
When a loved one is killed due to an egregious act of negligence or other fault, it's important that survivors understand that they are not without recourse in the matter. Regardless of the adjudication of any criminal charges, there is still a path to civil justice available.
Source: New York Daily News, "NY man faces upgraded charges in crash that killed 5," The Associated Press, April 26, 2018