WEST HEMPSTEAD — A car was cut in half after smashing into trees along a Long Island parkway Monday morning, killing four 18-year-old passengers, New York State Police said. The 17-year-old driver, who had a learner’s permit, was taken to a hospital.
The accident on the westbound Southern State Parkway happened at about 4 a.m., closing the roadway for more than five hours on a quiet Columbus Day holiday. Backpacks and other personal items could be seen inside the wreckage.
Glass, debris and other car parts were strewn along a wooded area adjacent to a nearby neighborhood street, where one neighbor said she was awakened by the sound of a loud explosion.
“Just a loud boom,” said Amy Buchanan, who lives on nearby Taylor Road. Her home is about 50 yards from where the late-model Subaru came to rest. She said other neighbors told her one apparent survivor of the crash was seen walking near the wreckage.
State Police identified the driver as 17-year-old Joseph Beer of Queens. His four passengers were not immediately identified. Police said those killed were thrown out of the vehicle after the driver failed to negotiate a curve in the road and crashed into the woods.
The front and rear parts of the vehicle were loaded separately onto a flatbed truck and carted away from the scene.
Buchanan said the area is the site of frequent accidents. “I’ve lived here for 10 years and there has been an accident almost in that exact spot every year, but never as one as horrific as this,” she said.
The parkway was reopened shortly before 10 a.m.