A driver who was 17 years old when he crashed his car on the Southern State Parkway, killing four friends, has finally been sentenced for the 2012 incident. Joseph Beer, now 19, will face five to 15 years in prison for aggravated vehicular homicide.
On October 8, 2012, 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.
Beer only had a learner's permit, and 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. Beer had admitted to the judge that, before the crash, he smoked marijuana and "was speeding."
Judge David Sullivan decided not to consider Beer a youthful offender, "He must be punished," saying the crash was "one of the most horrific scenes in the county’s history."
Beer asked forgiveness from his victims' families, "I will have to live with myself for the rest of my life, knowing I killed four young men who were like brothers." However, Neal Rajapa's mother said, "I don't think he's sorry. There is no remorse there. But I have to forgive him to move on... But I forgive Joseph because I have to... My son cannot be here to live his life, to get married, and to do all the fun stuff. But he [Beer] is here, so he needs to step up the game and be responsible."