By Mark Hallum
A New Jersey man has been charged with manslaughter, reckless driving and reckless edangerment after he allegedly caused a four-vehicle crash on the Grand Central Parkway which killed two passengers and injured three more in his own vehicle, the Queens district attorney said.
The early morning disaster happened Sunday and authorities contend alcohol may have played a factor.
Andrew Shakespeare, 33, of Roselle, N.J.was the operator of the 2014 BMW X5 SUV, which police said was traveling westbound at approximately 76 miles per hour in a 50-mpg zone, near the 188th Street exit when the collision occurred around 6 a.m.Shakespeare’s full charges include two counts of second-degree manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and reckless driving, according to the DA. He faces 15 years in prison if convicted.
“A wedding celebration ended in a horrific tragedy when one of the guests – the defendant – allegedly got behind the wheel of his vehicle, drove recklessly and at a high rate of speed on one of Queens County’s major highways before losing control and crashing into several vehicles and through a guardrail, resulting in the death of two of his five passengers – a 34-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy, who was ejected from the vehicle – and causing serious injury to three others,” Brown said.
Shakespeare’s vehicle sideswiped a 2002 Nissan Sentra before losing control and veering across three lanes of traffic, according to authorities. The BMW struck a 2016 Nissan Rogue and both cars plowed into the center guardrail and began to roll, police said. A fourth car tried to avoid the rollover accident, but struck Shakespeare’s vehicle and rolled off the side of the road where it then struck two trees, according to police.
Akeam Grant, 16, from Brooklyn, was in the rear passenger seat and was ejected from the vehicle, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Layon Cambell, 34, of Brooklyn, was in the front passenger seat and was taken to Elmhurst Hospital with head injuries, where he was pronounced dead, according to police
When police arrived, they noted Shakespeare’s eyes were bloodshot and the distinct smell of alcohol, according to the DA. Shakespeare admitted to cops at the scene to having consumed only a single beer at 1:30 a.m. before attempting to drive to Brooklyn with the passengers in his car.
Brown also said Shakespeare had refused to submit to a portable Breathalyzer at the scene and that a search warrant was required to extract a blood sample for screening at the hospital to which he was transported. The results were still pending.
Police said the wreck had left a 30-foot gap in the guardrail while the skid mark from Shakespeare’s vehicle stretched 240 feet and clearly showed the trajectory of the vehicle veering from the right to the left side of the road.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall