A Huntington Station man has pleaded guilty in a drunk driving crash on Northern Boulevard in Laurel Hollow that left a man with life-threatening injuries, in July 2021.
Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly announced Monday that Rafael Melara, 37, pleaded guilty before Judge Caryn Fink to charges including Aggravated Vehicular Assault (a C felony); Operating a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Alcohol as a Felony (an E felony); and Assault in the Second Degree (a D felony).
Fink has committed to sentence the defendant to five to nine years in prison when he is due back in court on Sept. 28.
“Driving in broad daylight on a stretch of winding road with nearly three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system, Melara slammed head-on into oncoming traffic, striking a car and a bus traveling without passengers,” Donnelly said. “The victim in the car suffered significant injuries that required an airlift and emergency surgery to save his life. We are thankful that the victim in this case was able to make a full recovery.”
Donnelly said that on July 19, 2021, at approximately 5:02 p.m. Melara, driving his 2017 Nissan Rogue while highly intoxicated, lost control of the vehicle while attempting to navigate a bend in the road eastbound on Northern Boulevard near the intersection of Moores Hill Road in Laurel Hollow.
His vehicle crossed over the double yellow line and into oncoming traffic, collided head-on with a 2013 Honda Civic, and both cars struck a bus traveling west along Northern Boulevard. The bus driver was uninjured in the collision.
The victim was airlifted to Nassau University Medical Center with extensive injuries, including a lung contusion and internal bleeding that required emergency surgery to repair, but survived.
The defendant was arrested at the scene by members of the Nassau County Police Department Highway Patrol Bureau and the Oyster Bay Cove Police Department.
Senior Assistant District Attorney Alexander DePalo of the Vehicular Crimes Bureau is prosecuting this case.