From the New York Daily News, May 24:
Call for justice in SUV rage
Dad whose family was mowed down rails at suspect brothers
“They came here like animals,” seethed Michael Celentano.
Standing yesterday on the front yard of his North Bellmore home, just steps from where his family was mowed down by an SUV allegedly driven by Joseph Cassidy, the brother of his son’s best friend, Celentano demanded justice.
And the 51-year-old food salesman said justice for him means John Cassidy behind bars as well as his brother.
Joseph Cassidy, 31, was arrested last week and now faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of first-degree assault.
The two brothers confronted Giuseppe Celentano, 27, last Wednesday outside his family’s Pacific St. home and accused him of stealing their recently deceased mother’s wedding and engagement rings with the intention of giving them to his bride-to-be at his Saturday wedding.
The accusation led to punches and a chaotic scene as Giuseppe’s father, his mother, Clara, 49; brother, Michael, 25, and namesake grandfather, Giuseppe, 85, who came from Italy for the now canceled nuptials, rushed outside to intervene.
Police allege that Joseph Cassidy, who was on probation for drunken driving, put his 2004 Lincoln Navigator in reverse and floored the gas pedal with the driver’s side door open, knocking three of the Celentanos and a neighbor to the ground.
Cassidy, with brother, John, 26, in the passenger seat, then put the SUV in drive and sped off, running over and fracturing the left leg of Clara Celentano.
Clara Celentano, who needed surgery to repair her broken knee, and her father-in-law, who suffered a head injury and was in intensive care for three days, remain hospitalized.
The elder Michael Celentano, who plans to file a lawsuit against the Cassidys, said John Cassidy was as much at fault as his older brother.
“He is the one who started everything. He set it up. They wanted to kill my son,” Celentano said. “John should go to jail together with his brother.”
Ben Gullo, attorney for the Cassidys, denied his clients were the aggressors.
“What are they [the Celentanos] doing on the driver’s side with the door open other than punching and attacking my client and trying to drag him out of the vehicle?” he sad.
Gullo said the younger Giuseppe Celentano had told his clients last week that he didn’t have the money for engagement and wedding rings and later stole their mother’s rings from their Garden City home.
Michael Celentano denied that charge.
“He had the ring he bought to get married with. We have all the receipts and all the bags the rings came with,” the father said.
From Long Island Press, May 24:
Man Sends Car into Neighbor’s Room
A Ridge man mistook a family’s bedroom for his garage on Monday night, crashing his car into their house.
Police say Vincent Tavolaro, 22, was driving a 1999 Ford on Whiskey Road at about 11:25 p.m. As he approached the Randall Road intersection, he lost control and drove the car into the bedroom of the Rodriguez family. The entire Rodriguez family was asleep in the same bedroom, but luckily no one was injured.
After crashing, Tavolaro attempted to flee the scene of the accident and was quickly apprehended by Suffolk police. Tavolaro was held overnight at the 7th Precinct and charged with driving while ability impaired, leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident and criminal mischief, according to police.
While police will not release Tavolaro’s Blood-Alcohol Content (BAC), his charge of driving while ability impaired indicates a BAC between .05 and .07, under the legal limit of .08 and requirement for a DWI charge.
Tavolaro was released from jail in his own recognizance and was arraigned Tuesday morning. He is due back in court on June 30, according to the office of Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.
From Newsday, May 24:
Memorial unveiled for victims of drunken driving
The two bronze figures represent what might be, a hope for the future.
The man crouches, trowel in hand. The woman stands, holding a set of blueprints. Together, they make ready to repair a break in the 75-foot-long brick wall – a jagged gash symbolizing a crash caused by a drunken driver.
Michael Alfano’s “Sculpture of Hope” is part of the outdoor “Garden of Awareness” memorial unveiled yesterday at Farmingdale State University of New York and commissioned by the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Its debut drew more than 200 people, among them family members of victims. Farmingdale State, whose faculty and students participated in an initial design phase, donated campus land for the project. The “Wall of Remembrance,” etched with victims’ names, and the landscaping was designed by the Goldberg & Rodler design firm in Huntington. Alfano, the sculptor, is an East Meadow native who lives near Boston.
Denna Cohen, president of the MADD-Long Island Metro chapter, praised the support of state Sen. Charles Fuschillo (R-Merrick), who secured $125,000 for the project that so far has cost $150,000. MADD also raised money by collecting $100 donations from people who wanted their loved ones’ names inscribed on the bricks. The group will honor any request, however – donation or not – to have a name added. The wall has space for nearly 2,000 names.
While other memorials to victims of drunken driving exist across the country, Cohen said MADD believed the “Garden of Awareness” is the only one to include at least a sampling of names from across the country, including one from as far away as Japan.
Cohen, whose 21-year-old daughter Jodi was killed 17 years ago, hopes the project prompts visitors to reflect on how the victims were “killed or injured in such a senseless way. … Our whole goal is to not have new victims.”
More than 280 names of victims injured or killed by drunken drivers are inscribed on the wall. Yesterday, some family members were led to take etchings of inscriptions as keepsakes, much as people do at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. One of them was Cecile Zatwarnicki of Medford, whose son Edward Matthew Zatwarnicki was killed in October 2004. He was 21.
“It’s nice to have something that will be here for a lifetime,” said Zatwarnicki. “My son won’t be forgotten. Hopefully, no more names will be on the wall.”
Kathy Thompson’s pregnant daughter, also named Kathy, was killed in 2000 at the age of 20. The Lake Ronkonkoma resident brought along her 6-year-old grandson, Brendan Tusa, who, in his mother’s memory, released balloons.
889 Alcohol-related accidents in NYC
28 Alcohol-related deaths in NYC
587 Alcohol-related deaths statewide
16,694 Alcohol-related deaths in U.S.
NUMBERS ARE FROM 2004
Call them martyrs who died as a sacrifice to preserve our freedoms—our freedom to act like idiots and keep destroying the planet.
See more reasons WHY WE FIGHT.