MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a Baldwin man pled guilty today for driving while high on drugs and causing a fatal crash on the Southern State Parkway in April.
Christopher Gomez-Almendarez, 24, pled guilty before Judge Patricia Harrington to Manslaughter in the Second Degree (a C felony), Assault in the Second Degree (a D violent felony) and Driving While Ability Impaired by a Combination of Drugs (an unclassified misdemeanor). The defendant is expected to be sentenced to six years, concurrent to 2-1/2 years to seven years in prison on January 24, 2020. The prosecution recommended the maximum sentence of five to 15 years on the Manslaughter charge and seven years on the Assault charge
“Reverend Mammen was a father of five children and a cherished community and church leader when his life was tragically cut short by this defendant,” DA Singas said. “The combination of the defendant’s speed and his drug impairment was lethal to anyone in his path. Our condolences remain with his family, friends and parishioners.”
DA Singas said that on Good Friday, April 19, at 12:10 AM, the defendant drove his Honda Civic at extremely fast speeds while he was high on alprazolam and fentanyl westbound on the Southern State Parkway when he rear-ended a GMC SUV between exits 29 and 30. The impact of the collision caused the SUV, driven by 69-year-old Reverend Chacko Mammen, to crash into several trees on the side of the road.
In the seconds leading up to the collision, crash data showed the defendant was driving 86 MPH to 91 MPH and that he did not attempt to slow down or brake before his vehicle collided with the Reverend’s car.
Rev. Mammen was transported to Nassau University Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries. His wife, Wilsy Mammen, a front-seat passenger in the vehicle, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Rev. Mammen was a minister at the Long Island Mar Thoma Church in Merrick.
Senior Assistant District Attorney Christopher Casa and Assistant District Attorney Carissa Danesi of District Attorney Singas’ Vehicular Crimes Bureau are prosecuting this case. Brian Griffin, Esq. represents the defendant.