Victims laid to rest; 2 charged in deadly Nassau Expressway crash

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Kemberly Richardson has more on the deadly crash in Inwood.

Two people are facing charges in connection with the accident that left two people dead in Inwood early Wednesday morning, while two of the victims are being laid to rest.

Zakiyyah Steward, 25, is charged with driving while ability impaired by the combined Influence of drugs/alcohol and any drug/drugs, driving while ability impaired by drugs, DWI and unlawful possession of marijuana, and 35-year-old Rahmel Watkins is charged with DWI.

Zakiyyah Steward


Five cars collided in a violent crash that littered the roadway with car parts and battered hunks of metal, leaving investigators with a difficult task.

"You have five vehicles, over 800 feet of debris, you have oil, you have gasoline on the roads, thousands and thousands of car parts," Nassau County Police Detective Lieutenant Richard LeBrun said. "We have one car that the engine actually came out of the vehicle."

The people who died, a driver and passenger, were trapped when their Nissan Altima burst into flames on impact during the crash around 1:42 a.m. They were identified as 21-year-old Yisroel Levin, of Brooklyn, and 20-year-old Elisheva Basya Kaplan, of Far Rockaway.

The victims were described as newly engaged, and funeral services were held Thursday at Yeshiva Darchei Torah on Beach 17th Street in Far Rockaway, Queens.

Five others were seriously injured.

Steward and Watkins were driving in separate cars, apparently in the same direction, authorities said. It was not immediately clear whether either driver caused the chain-reaction crash.

Steward's father said after court Thursday that the car that contained the two deceased was the one that caused the accident, saying his daughter told him their car hit her car before she hit another car, and then her vehicle went over the guardrail.

He said all the survivors told police in their reports that the car containing the two deceased "initiated the accident."

"I feel for their families," he said. "My condolences go out to them, but my daughter did not initiate that accident. She could have been killed if she didn't take the drastic action of getting out of the way."

In court, prosecutors said Steward was scheduled to be sentenced Friday in Brooklyn on a burglary conviction.

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