UPDATED July 17, 9:30 a.m.
On their way home after celebrating a wedding, an alleged drunk driver from New Jersey drove two of his acquaintances to their deaths in a four-vehicle pileup on the Grand Central Parkway in Jamaica on Sunday morning, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.
Andrew Shakespeare, 33, of Roselle, NJ, is awaiting arraignment on manslaughter, drunk driving and other charges for his role in the deadly accident that occurred at about 6:24 a.m. on July 16 along the westbound lanes of the Grand Central Parkway near the 188th Street exit.
According to authorities, Shakespeare was allegedly behind the wheel of a 2014 BMW X5 SUV. He had several acquaintances in the vehicle with him, including Layon Campbell, 34, of Brooklyn, who was riding in the front passenger seat; Akeam Grant, 16, of Brooklyn, who was in the rear; and an unidentified 21-year-old man, also riding in the rear.
Prior to the accident, prosecutors said, Shakespeare and his passengers had attended a wedding that began on the night of July 15, where Shakespeare was observed allegedly consuming alcohol. Following the wedding, police learned, Shakespeare visited a friend’s house, where he allegedly had one beer before attempting to drive to Brooklyn.
Police said Shakespeare was driving at a high rate of speed — an estimated 76 mph, well above the posted 50 mph speed limit — on the parkway when, while attempting to change lanes, he sideswiped a 2002 Nissan Sentra being driven by a 59-year-old woman. The impact reportedly caused Shakespeare to lose control of his vehicle, which then swerved across three lanes of traffic and smashed into a 2016 Nissan Rogue, which was operated by a 52-year-old man.
Authorities noted that both the BMW and the Nissan Rogue then slammed into the center guardrail, crossed over the parkway’s eastbound lanes and flipped over. A fourth vehicle — a 2012 Mercedes Benz SUV operated by a 38-year-old woman and heading eastbound on the Grand Central Parkway — attempted to swerve out of the way but was ultimately hit by the BMW.
The Mercedes Benz wound up on the right shoulder embankment, then struck two trees and flipped over onto the driver’s side, law enforcement sources said.
Numerous officers from the 107th Precinct and the NYPD Highway Patrol rushed to the scene along with EMS units. The responding officers noticed that Shakespeare near the vehicle and that he had bloodshot, watery eyes, Brown said. Officers also noticed a smell of alcohol from his vehicle and numerous alcoholic beverage containers outside of the SUV.
Campbell suffered trauma about the head and body and was rushed to Elmhurst Hospital, where he later died. Grant, who had been ejected from the SUV, was pronounced dead at the scene. The 21-year-old man in Shakespeare’s SUV was taken to NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition with a laceration to his right arm.
Shakespeare was brought to Long Island Jewish Medical Center, where he was treated for a minor head injury. Prosecutors said he allegedly refused to submit to a portable breathalyzer test and a blood test. Police obtained a court-authorized warrant to administer the blood test on Shakespeare; the results are pending, according to Brown.
Meanwhile, the drivers of the Nissan Sentra and Nissan Rogue were treated at NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens Hospital for neck and back pain; they are both listed in stable condition. A 50-year-old male passenger inside the Nissan Rogue was removed to North Shore Hospital in Manhasset for injuries to his right leg, and a 63-year-old man inside the Nissan Rogue was taken to NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens for treatment of a fractured rib and neck and back pain.
Finally, the driver of the Mercedes Benz SUV was taken to Long Island Jewish Medical Center for treatment of pain to her right shoulder.
Police have charged Shakespeare with two counts each of manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter and aggravated vehicular homicide; three counts of reckless endangerment; and additional counts of DWI and reckless driving.
The Grand Central Parkway was closed in both directions for much of the day on Sunday as the investigation into the crash unfolded.