Demetri Stewart not only drove accused drunken driver Oneil Sharpe Jr. away from the scene of a fatal crash early Sunday on the Southern State Parkway, but he ignored the screams of the family -- a man and his two children -- who died in the burning car, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Stewart, 23, of Cambria Heights, Queens, was following Sharpe, 24, home from a barbecue in Brentwood when the fatal crash occurred in Bay Shore, Assistant Suffolk County District Attorney Patricia Brosco said. Stewart is charged with leaving the scene of a death, fourth-degree criminal facilitation and third-degree hindering prosecution.
He was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail or $200,000 bond and is due back in court on Friday.
Stewart's attorney, Gregory Nanton of Brooklyn, denied all charges against his client, instead calling him "a Good Samaritan.""My client's a Good Samaritan," Nanton told the court in Central Islip in Tuesday, adding: "He tried to help his friends." He said evidence will show Stewart was trying to take Sharpe to the hospital.
But Brosco said Stewart was 10 to 15 feet from the BMW sport utility vehicle driven by Sharpe after it slammed into the Toyota carrying Medgar Evers mathematics professor Ancio Ostane, 37, his wife, Lucnie Bouaz-Ostane, 40, and their children, Andy, 8, and Sephora, 4. The father and the two children died in the crash; Bouaz-Ostane was not injured.
And Brosco told the court that not only did Stewart hear Sharpe say he'd been involved in the crash, but said he was about 100 feet from the burning Toyota and that he heard the victims, including the two children, screaming as the vehicle caught fire -- and elected to drive Sharpe and two friends traveling with Sharpe from the scene, instead of trying to help.
"Instead of helping that poor family that was trapped in that burning vehicle . . . this defendant gathered his friends -- and took them away from the scene," Brosco said.
Brosco said Stewart, driving a rented red Toyota Camry, was following Sharpe when his friend slammed into the Toyota sedan driven by Ostane at Exit 41S, Bay Shore Road near the Robert Moses interchange on the westbound Southern State, and that, after gathering his friends and leaving, he drove Sharpe around for four hours.
During that time, Brosco said, Sharpe's intoxication "all disappeared." In fact, Brosco said, Stewart only drove Sharpe to Sharpe's mother's house in Rockville Centre, where he was arrested more than four hours after the crash, after he heard that police had been to the home -- searching for his friend.
On Monday, Sharpe pleaded not guilty to charges of driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident, and was ordered held on $250,000 cash bail or $500,000 bond. Sharpe is also due back in court on Friday.