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Queens Chronicle

Driver in fatal car wreck faces prison

Teenager tested positive for marijuana

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Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 10:30 am

The Ozone Park driver who survived a Long Island car crash that killed four of his friends was arrested in Nassau County last week on numerous charges connected to the Oct. 8 wreck.

Joseph Beer, 17, was taken into custody last Friday after being indicted by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice on multiple charges including aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular manslaughter in the first degree, four counts of manslaughter in the second degree, four counts of vehicular manslaughter in the second degree, driving while intoxicated, reckless endangerment in the second degree, reckless driving and unlicensed operation of a vehicle. He could face 25 years in prison if convicted.

According to Rice, Beer — who had only a learner’s permit and was not legally allowed to drive at the time of the accident — was driving at 110 mph westbound on the Southern State Parkway at 3:35 a.m. on Oct. 8, when he lost control of the car on an overpass right before Exit 17. The car crashed into trees on the side of the highway, splitting into two.

Beer’s four passengers — Darian Ramnarine, 18, of Inwood; Peter Kanhai, 18, of South Ozone Park; Neal Rajapa, 17, of South Ozone Park; and Christopher Kahn, 18, of Ozone Park — all were thrown from the vehicle and killed. Beer suffered minor injuries.

A blood sample taken from Beer two hours later tested positive for marijuana.

“The sheer magnitude of this tragedy is unthinkable, and it could have easily been avoided if this defendant had simply made the right choice to drive sober and drive safely,” Rice said in a prepared statement. “Instead, we have four promising young lives cut short, another young man facing years in prison, and families that will forever be torn apart by this horrific crash.”

Beer’s parents, Patricia and Aaditia Beer, were also arrested and charged with unlicensed operation of a vehicle for letting their son drive. They could face 15 days in jail and a $300 fine.

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