1 dead, 2 hurt in New Rochelle wrong-way crash

July 25, 2011 2:43:39 PM PDT
A horrific wrong-way crash in Westchester County left one person dead and two people hospitalized.

Karen Lee wiped away tears, as she realized how quiet her home is now without her big brother.

"He'll be missed because of his jokes. He made us laugh a lot," Lee said.

The soft-spoken comedian of the family, 29-year-old Reginald Lee was also the breadwinner for his mother and siblings.

He worked as an electrician.

He was riding home in the passenger seat of his best friend, Mark Toppin's car around 4:30 Sunday morning when their Toyota was suddenly crushed as they were hit head on by a wrong-way driver.

Was it drugs? Was it alcohol? There are many questions.

With charges still pending, police want to know how the driver of the other vehicle, Tanisha Gomez, could have gone the wrong direction without realizing it for at least six miles.

She was reportedly first spotted going northbound in the southbound lanes of I-95 near the Bruckner Expressway in the Bronx, and didn't stop, until the crushing impact just south of the New Rochelle toll plaza.

Back home in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Karen Lee keeps the image of the crushed cars from her mind.

Instead, she is focused on planning a funeral, and praying for her brother's best friend, who is listed in stable condition at Jacobi Medical Center.

"We don't know what he saw in the car, it could be traumatizing to an individual, so, if Mark is watching this, I want him to stay strong and don't feel guilty for anything," Lee said.

As for the woman police say is to blame, she is in serious condition at Jacobi Medical Center.

Lee offered a sincere and similar message of forgiveness.

"We have no animosity towards her whatsoever, it was just an accident, it happens, the situation is very sad but God is able to bring us through," Lee said.

This is the third high-profile head on collision in Westchester County in two years.

This week is the two year anniversary of the crash that killed eight people on the Taconic Parkway.

The driver was apparently under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Just last week, a man was charged with DWI after crashing into a police cruiser on the Bronx River Parkway in Scarsdale.