Laurelton man arraigned on vehicular manslaughter for causing fatal crash on Long Island Expressway in Elmhurst: DA

A Laurelton man was arraigned on vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol for causing a chain of collisions on the Long Island Expressway that killed a tow truck operator in October. (File/Lloyd Mitchell)

A Laurelton man was indicted for allegedly driving drunk and causing a chain of collisions on the Long Island Expressway in Elmhurst that took the life of a tow truck operator and serious injury to a motorist in October, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

Denzel Porter, 28, of Alecia Avenue, was arraigned Thursday before Queens Supreme Court Justice Gary Miret on an indictment charging him with vehicular manslaughter, assault, criminally negligent homicide, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, and other crimes.

According to the charges, at around 3:30 a.m. on Oct. 8, Porter was driving with two female passengers at an extremely high speed in a Dodge Durango on the westbound side of the Long Island Expressway near Woodhaven Boulevard.

At the same time, 47-year-old tow operator Carlos Santiago was outside his Ram truck on the right shoulder of the roadway helping 27-year-old motorist Rakiem Ali with his disabled Nissan sedan.

Porter’s Dodge Durango slammed into a silver Volkswagen SUV driven by 66-year-old Peter Park and both the Dodge and Volkswagen then collided with the Nissan sedan, striking Santiago and Ali, who was standing nearby. Santiago was thrown towards the service road parallel to the expressway and suffered severe lower body trauma, including the loss of one of his legs.

The Nissan owner and tow operator were both taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center where Santiago was pronounced dead as a result of his injuries. Ali required intensive surgical care for his injuries.

Both passengers of the Dodge Durango and the Volkswagen driver were also taken by paramedics to New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Queens, all in stable condition, with various complaints of pain for treatment of non-critical injuries.

Investigators responding to the scene of the accident observed the defendant exhibiting signs of Intoxication.

“There’s nothing more selfish than getting behind the wheel and driving under the influence,” Katz said. “Everyone with whom we share the road deserves our respect and consideration and has every right to reach their destination safely. The defendant is alleged to have been driving while intoxicated and will be held to account for the tragic consequences of that decision.”

Justice Miret ordered Porter to return to court on May 2. If convicted, Porter faces up to seven years in prison.