Rafael Melara, driving while highly intoxicated, struck a car and bus on Northern Boulevard; victim sustained life-threatening injuries
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly announced today that a Huntington Station man pleaded guilty in a drunk driving crash on Northern Boulevard in Laurel Hollow that left a man with life-threatening injuries, including internal bleeding, in July 2021.
Rafael Melara, 37, pleaded guilty before Judge Caryn Fink to charges including Aggravated Vehicular Assault (a C felony); Operating a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Alcohol as a Felony (an E felony); and Assault in the Second Degree (a D felony). Judge Fink has committed to sentence the defendant to five to nine years in prison when he is due back in court on September 28, 2022.
“Driving in broad daylight on a stretch of winding road with nearly three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system, Melara slammed head-on into oncoming traffic, striking a car and a bus traveling without passengers,” said DA Donnelly. “The victim in the car suffered significant injuries that required an airlift and emergency surgery to save his life. We are thankful that the victim in this case was able to make a full recovery.”
DA Donnelly said that, according to the charges, on July 19, 2021, at approximately 5:02 p.m. Melara, driving his 2017 Nissan Rouge while highly intoxicated, lost control of the vehicle while attempting to navigate a bend in the road eastbound on Northern Boulevard near the intersection of Moores Hill Road in Laurel Hollow. The defendant’s vehicle crossed over the double yellow line and into oncoming traffic, collided head-on with a 2013 Honda Civic, and both cars struck a bus traveling west along Northern Boulevard. The bus driver was uninjured in the collision.
The victim was airlifted to Nassau University Medical Center with extensive injuries, including a lung contusion and internal bleeding that required emergency surgery to repair, and survived.
The defendant was arrested at the scene by members of the Nassau County Police Department Highway Patrol Bureau and the Oyster Bay Cove Police Department and taken to Huntington Hospital for evaluation.
Senior Assistant District Attorney Alexander DePalo of the Vehicular Crimes Bureau is prosecuting this case. The defendant is represented by Alan Schwartz, Esq. and Scott Migden, Esq.