Street-Racing Driver Pleads Guilty in Pedestrian’s Death

A Commack man pleaded guilty Thursday for his role in a street racing crash that killed a Huntington Station man in 2022.

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said that  on Nov. 19, about 8:45 p.m., Jesus Bonilla, 21, was operating a 2009 Honda sedan westbound on Jericho Turnpike when he began racing a Saab SUV allegedly operated by co-defendant Jared Cooper.

Witnesses reported seeing the Honda and Saab vehicles driving side by side at high rates of speed, running red lights, and crossing into oncoming traffic.

James Beck, 57, was struck by Bonilla’s vehicle while he was walking across Jericho Turnpike at the intersection of Totten Avenue in Huntington Station. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“James Beck’s death was completely avoidable and occurred because this defendant recklessly engaged in street racing with another driver,” Tierney said. “Suffolk County’s roadways are not racetracks. Anyone caught driving recklessly and jeopardizing the lives of other motorists or pedestrians will be held accountable.”

Crash reconstruction determined that Bonilla was driving 79 mph in a 40-mph zone at the time he struck the victim.

Bonilla pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter, a Class C felony, and reckless driving, a Class A misdemeanor, in Supreme Court.

He is scheduled for sentencing on April 4, and faces up to two to six years in
prison. He is being represented by Michael Franzese.

Cooper’s case is still pending, and he is being represented by Jonathan Manley.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney James Curtin of the Vehicular Crime Bureau with investigative assistance from Detective Anthony Iadevaio of the Suffolk County Police Department’s Second Squad.

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