Yesterday, a Subaru swerved off the road on the westbound Southern State Parkway between exits 17 and 18 and then crashed into the woods, killing four passengers. The driver survived and has been identified as Queens resident Joseph Beer, 17—and he only had a learner's permit.
Beer was driving on a curving part of the highway known as "Blood Alley"—because of the fatalities there. (The AAA's NY branch said, "The Southern State Parkway is the exemplar of the poorly engineered roads typical of our area... It, and many others, predate modern transportation engineering. Its lanes are too narrow, the road is too twisty and too hilly. The on- and off-ramps are too short to allow for adequate acceleration and braking.") Around 3:45 a.m., he lost control of the car, which went flying into the woods and hitting trees. The four passengers—Christopher Khan, Neal Rajapa, Darian Ramnarine and Peter Anthony, all 18—were ejected and died.
Residents in Malverne, near the crash site, told WCBS 2 that the huge crash was extremely loud, one explaining, "I heard the initial impact, I had the window open. Literally, the minute they hit the tree, the house shoo. We started hearing a bunch of popping sounds and we thought there were explosions or gun shots or something, but what it turned out was all the debris in the street, all the cars passing kept hitting it." Another said, "“Normally you would hear screech marks — the sound of a car trying to stop. That car went full speed into it. There was no screeching or anything. It went straight into there at full speed.”
Drivers with learner's permits may not drive between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., may not have more than one passenger, and may not drive without a licensed driver at least 21 years of age. Victim Neal Rajapa's mother spoke to Newsday and said she wasn't worried about the young driver who killed her son, because Beer and the others were all friends: 'When Beer's father bought him a car about a month ago, Sheron Rajapa said, she had no qualms about the young driver giving her son rides: 'They were very good kids and the parents trusted them.'"
However Christopher Khan's aunt was furious, "My nephew can’t come back, and they have to do something about the law — give them licenses when they’re 25 years old or something. Don’t give them while they’re young."