NEW HYDE PARK, Nassau County (WABC) -- Three females were killed in a crash near a catering hall after leaving a Sweet 16 birthday party on Long Island, allegedly by a drunken driver.
The crash happened around 11:10 p.m. Saturday on Jericho Turnpike near a catering hall called the Inn at New Hyde Park.
Dante Lennon, 22, of Freeport, was driving a 2012 Mercedes-Benz and struck the 2010 Lincoln Town Car with a driver and five passengers inside in the eastbound lane of the turnpike, police said.
Three female passengers in the back of the Lincoln were pronounced dead at the scene.
They were identified as 66-year-old Marlene Lu, of Woodside, Queens, 68-year-old Ho Hua, also of Woodside, and 41-year-old Tu Nguyen, of Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina.
Authorities said Lu was the mother of the host, grandmother to the girl who had the sweet 16. Hua was the host's aunt, while Nguyen was a cousin.
"One accident is too many, and one life is way too many," Nassau County police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said. "We are going to start an initiative here in the police department about taking back our roads, writing more summons, doing more interactions, more DWIs, road blocks, if that's what it's going to take."
Also in the car was a 73-year-old man with neck and back pain who was treated and released, a 67-year-old man who suffered a fractured clavicle and shoulder injuries, and a 42-year-old man with fractured ribs.
"Very disturbing, never seen that ever in my life," witness Jaylen Augustin said. "I just hope -- why would that happen, I just can't believe it."
Lennon has been charged with three counts of vehicular manslaughter, vehicular assault, and driving while intoxicated. He was ordered held without bail.
"You see people get killed immediately; You were just with them five minutes before," witness Michael McCutchei said. "You know, it's kind of sad. You're holding the door. They're going home thinking they had a great night for their Sweet 16, their granddaughter. It's a nightmare."
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