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Investigation Cites Causes of Long Island Crash Where Five Died

An investigation of a Montauk Highway crash that killed five people indicates that the car that swerved into oncoming traffic had been traveling as fast as 106 miles per hour prior to the head-on collision. In the accident, the driver of the speeding car died, along with the Uber driver and three passengers in the vehicle he hit. One of the Uber passengers survived but was seriously injured.

The horrific accident occurred in Quogue prior to midnight on July 24. Justin Mendez, 22, was driving a red Nissan Maxima westbound well over the speed limit and with the headlights off. According to a witness, a police car had started giving chase, but was not making up ground. Then, the Nissan drifted across the road into the eastbound lane, striking a Toyota Prius operated by 32-year-old Uber driver Farhan Zahid. In the collision, Zahid was killed, along with three of the people in his car, Ryan Kiess, and brothers Michael Farrell and James Farrell. A fourth passenger, Brianna Maglio, suffered catastrophic injuries. She was the girlfriend of Mr. Kiess.

Numerous factors related to this terrible accident are commonly found in litigation stemming from vehicle collisions on Long Island, including:

  • Speeding — Now that many cars and trucks have event data recorders, it is possible to pinpoint key information about vehicle operation prior to the crash. Here, the Nissan had been traveling as fast as 106 mph in the moments before the collision and was going 86 mph at the time of impact. Conversely, the Toyota was recorded at 27 mph when the crash occurred.
  • Possible drug use — Marijuana was found in the Nissan of Mr. Mendez. If he were impaired by drugs, it might partly explain his decision to turn off his headlights in an apparent attempt to evade the police car that was chasing him.
  • Lack of highway dividers — In an interview following the accident, the bereaved father of Mr. Kiess claimed that one reason for the accident was the fact that no physical divider separates traffic going in either direction on that section of Montauk. The Kiess family has filed a notice of claim against the Suffolk County and the Quogue Village Police Department.
  • Rideshare services — Though the Toyota driver was not at fault in this crash, an increasing amount of auto accident cases involve victims who are injured or killed while passengers of rideshare services, such as Uber and Lyft.

Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP is an established law firm serving vehicle accident victims and their families throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties. No matter what led to the crash that harmed you or a loved one, we will conduct a detailed investigation in order to pursue justice against the liable parties.