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Two Drivers Racing Each Other Sentenced For Fatal LIE Crash In Nassau County

The LIE west of Route 135.
The LIE west of Route 135. Photo Credit: Google Maps

Two Nassau County men have been sentenced for their roles in a fatal 2017 crash on the Long Island Expressway while racing each other at speeds as high as 120 miles per hour that left one man dead.

Jonnathan Santos, 22, of Manhasset, was sentenced Wednesday, May 29, to three to nine years in prison, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas.

He pleaded guilty on Oct. 9, 2018, to manslaughter and DWAI/Drugs, said the DA's Office.

Santos’ co-defendant and fellow racer, Areefeen Hirji, 22, of the Village of Muttontown in Oyster Bay, was sentenced February 26, to 3-1/2 years to 10-1/2 years in prison.

He was convicted by a jury on December 19, 2018, of manslaughter, leaving the scene of a crash without reporting, reckless endangerment, making a false statement, and reckless driving.

“A young man with his entire life in front of him was taken from his family and friends because of these defendants’ reckless actions,” Singas said. “While no sentence can bring Mr. Peralta back to his family, we do hope it brings them some solace.”

According to Singas, the crash took place on Feb. 23, 2017, when both defendants were racing eastbound on the LIE just west of the overpass for Route 135, the DA's Office said.

Santos was driving a 2015 BMW 528i, while Hirji was driving a 2017 Honda Accord. 

Both vehicles were traveling more than 120 miles per hour before crashing into one another. The impact of their cars caused the BMW to spin out and collide with a guardrail and a pickup truck.

The passenger in the backseat driver’s side of the BMW, Gianfranco Peralta, 19, of Manhasset, was ejected from the car and died on the scene.

 Two other passengers in the BMW were treated for minor injuries. 

Santos was allegedly impaired by alcohol and drugs at the time of the crash and arrested at the scene by members of the NCPD, while Hirji fled the scene.

 Two days after the incident, Hirji reported to Second Precinct, where he initially gave a false statement, saying another passenger in the vehicle was driving the car at the time of the crash. He later admitted to driving and was arrested.

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