Drag racing was a factor in a crash that killed five Long Island teens Saturday on Conklin Street in Farmingdale, according to a source that was close to the victims.
The source told The New York Daily News (The Daily News) that 17-year-old Tristan Reichle felt “peer pressured” into racing his Nissan with an another vehicle before he lost control and plowed into a large GMC suburban. Police are trying to determine if alcohol was a factor in the crash, and are checking the victims’ cell phones to see if anyone was texting or taking a call when the accident occurred.
The driver of the GMC and a female passenger were also seriously injured in the crash. The two were visiting from Maryland and were on their way to a hotel.
The driver who challenged Reichle to a race pulled over and the passenger got out of the vehicle to check on them when he saw the crash, but got scared and fled, the source told The Daily News. Matthew Romero’s brother, Jesse, 18, was one of the teens killed in the crash. Matthew said the other driver saw Reichle crash into the GMC, got out of the car, and called 911 before leaving the scene. The other driver has not been named because he is not being charged with a crime.
The mother of the teen accused of issuing the challenge insists there was no drag racing.
“My son talked to police until four or five in the morning” about the crash, she told The Daily News. “You know, my son is mourning the loss of his friends. It’s all hearsay. People will talk.”
A source also claims that some of the teens killed in the tragic collision were spotted drinking in the woods earlier Saturday evening, according to CBS New York.
Matthew insists the group of friends had been hanging out at Dave & Buster’s and hadn’t been drinking at all, The Daily News reported.
In addition to Reichle and Romero, Noah Francis, 15; Carly Lonnborg, 14; and Cody Talanian, 17, also died in the crash. Talanian survived the event but succumbed to his injuries later that day with his mother at his side, according to CBS New York.
More than a thousand people gathered for a prayer vigil in Farmingdale. The event grew so large that speakers had to be set up outside to handle the overflow. Grief counselors have been made available this week to students at Farmingdale High School, where all of the students attended, CBS New York reported.