Four Long Island teenagers were killed in May 2014 when their car collided head on with an SUV in Farmingdale. The victims of the fatal accident were Tristan Reichle, 17, who was the driver of the vehicle, Jesse Romero, 18, Carly Marie Lonnborth, 14, and Noah Francis, who was 15. Two adults in the SUV were visiting from Maryland and were listed in serious condition at a local hospital. While officials from the Nassau Police Department would not comment on the crash investigation, sources familiar with the accident site stated that the accident was the result of a drag race. Police were checking the teens’ cell phones to determine if distracted driving played a role in the accident.
Matthew Romero, 15, whose 18-year-old brother was killed in the crash, stated that the accident was the result of a drag race. According to Romero, when the driver of the other car involved in the drag race witnessed the head on collision, he pulled over and one of the passengers got out to see what had happened. Romero said that the driver called 911 and then left the scene of the accident. Romero stated, “He got paranoid or something and left.”
Noah Francis, a 15-year-old victim of the crash, left behind five siblings who lost their mother 14 years ago and their father last August. Farmingdale High School students wore green, the school’s color, to pay tribute to the crash victims who attended their school.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), car crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers ages 13 through 19. In 2012, 2,823 teens were killed in automobile accidents. Many of the deaths involved passengers who were in a car with a teen driver. The IIHS also reported that teen drivers ages 16 through 19 years old are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash than drivers who are 20-years-old or older. Most of the crashes involving teens are due to driver error, inexperience and speeding. In addition, teens are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, especially if there are other teenagers in the car. Moreover, most crashes involving teens occur at night.
While there were 2,823 teen car crash fatalities in 2012, this number has reduced dramatically over the years. In 1975, the number of teens involved in fatal accidents was 8,748. Experts attribute this 68 percent reduction to a number of factors. First, in 1996, many stated changed their licensing requirements for teen drivers. All 50 states now use a three-stage graduated licensing program. The first stage is a supervised learning period. The second stage is an intermediate license. During this state, teen drivers are usually restricted from driving at night and cannot have other teens in the car. The last stage grants a teen his or her full license. By strengthening license requirements, states have been able to reduce traffic fatalities among teens. Parents also play a key role in promoting safe driving by teenagers. For instance, parents can utilize in-vehicle monitoring devices which alert them when their teens are speeding or not wearing a seat belt.
More information on this story can be found at NY Newsday and the NY Daily News.