It happened just before midnight Saturday on Montauk Highway in Quogue, where authorities say a Nissan Maxima driving by 22-year-old Justin Mendez veered into oncoming traffic and slammed into a Toyota Prius operated by an Uber driver with four passengers.
Four people in the Uber were killed, including 32-year-old driver Farhan Zahid and passengers 20-year-old Michael Farrell, his 25-year-old brother James, and 25-year-old Ryan Kiess.
Mendez was also killed. The fourth Uber passenger, 22-year-old Brianna Maglio, remains in critical condition.
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Eyewitness News reporter Kristin Thorne spoke with Zahid's widow, Hifsa Ahmad, at their home in Bay Shore.
"I still think that he is coming back," she said.
Ahmad said she spoke with Zahid on Saturday night just as he was about to pick up the group in Quogue, and that he joined her on Long Island from Pakistan five years ago.
He leaves behind three children: A 1-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old.
Ahmad said her children keep asking her when their dad is coming home, and why he isn't home from work yet?
"I have no answer for them," she said. "I never thought he's not going to come back."
Kurt Kiess, Ryan Kiess's father, said officials in Quogue and Suffolk County need to make safety improvements to Montauk Highway, adding more lights and nighttime police speed patrols.
"That road is not a little country road," he said. "It can't be 'Little House on the Prairie' anymore."
Eyewitness News reached out to the Quogue Mayor, the Quogue Village Police Department, and Suffolk County about Kiess's concerns but did not hear back from anyone.
Kurt Kiess said Ryan and Brianna, an ICU nurse at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, had been dating for six years, and he has been standing vigil at the hospital with Maglio's family.
"We believe Brianna is getting better every second," he said.
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Kiess and the Farrell brothers had all been friends since childhood and lived only a few houses away from one another in Manhasset. They all attended Manhasset Secondary School, where they played lacrosse.
"This is an unthinkable tragedy both personally and professionally for me," Principal Dean Schlanger said in a statement. "I had the pleasure of knowing Michael, James and Ryan, as well as their families, while students from 7th-12th grades and beyond. These boys come from beloved families who are extremely connected and valued members of our community. All three of them were fun, bright and well-rounded gentlemen both on and off the playing field and will leave a profound and positive impact on our school community. I am truly saddened over their losses and send my most sincere condolences to their families, friends, and loved ones."
Michael Farrell attended Villanova University studying finance and real estate.
"It is with great sadness that I write to share the tragic news that Michael Farrell, a rising junior in the Villanova School of Business, passed away in a car accident on Long Island, N.Y., this past weekend," Vice President for Student Life Kathleen Byrnes said in a message to students, faculty and staff. "We want to extend our deepest sympathy to Michael's family and friends on this heartbreaking loss. Michael's brother, James, also passed away in the accident. We ask that you keep Michael, James and their family and loved ones in your thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time. The University Counseling Center and Campus Ministry are available for anyone who is grieving and wishes to talk with someone."
James Farrell captained the University of Pennsylvania lacrosse team in 2018.
"The Penn Athletics community is heartbroken and saddened by this tragic loss," university officials said in a statement. "Our thoughts remain with the Farrell family and everyone who knew James during this incredibly difficult time. James left an indelible mark on Penn lacrosse as a captain and leader on our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and he will be truly missed."
Kiess was a graduate of the University of Scranton and also played lacrosse, as did Maglio.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Kiess and Maglio families and their circle of friends at this very difficult time," university President Rev. Joseph Marina said. "Both Ryan and Brianna graduated from Scranton and both also played for Scranton's Lacrosse teams. Brianna earned her Bachelor's degree in nursing in 2019; Ryan his bachelor's degree in accounting in 2018 and his master of accountancy degree in 2020. They have many friends at Scranton who have been touched by their lives. With heavy hearts, we will continue to pray and extend our love to everyone impacted by this tragic accident.:"
Zahid had been driving for Uber for two years, the company said.
"Our thoughts are with the families of Mr. Zahid and the four others who lost their lives in this heartbreaking crash, and we hope the survivor makes a full recovery," the company said in a statement.
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