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Police: 2 teens killed, 2 injured by wrong-way drunk driver on Long Island

Promising tennis players killed by alleged drunk driver on Long Island
Promising tennis players killed by alleged drunk driver on Long Island 01:59

JERICHO, N.Y. -- An accused drunk driver was arraigned Thursday afternoon following a crash that claimed two young lives on Wednesday night on Long Island.

Police said two 14-year-old boys, along with two other teens, were struck by a pickup truck that was going the wrong way down a major Nassau County thoroughfare in Jericho.

There was an extraordinary show of support Thursday for the devastated families of the two teens killed and the two others injured. Hundreds of members of the Roslyn community packed the court and lined up outside for an arraignment of an alleged drunk driver who police say was going so fast the wrong way, the teens had nowhere to go.

The mangled car that carried the four Roslyn teens from a night of tennis competition is beyond recognition. Law enforcement officials said the 17-year-old driver tried maneuvering to avoid impact, and the right side of the car was pummeled. The two 14-year-olds were sitting on that side of the car. The 17-year-old and the 16-year-old passenger on the left side suffered internal injuries but are expected to survive. Their car also hit another vehicle with a mother and son inside.

Court documents identified Drew Hassenbein and Ethan Falkowitz as the two boys killed.

Watch Carolyn Gusoff's report

2 teens killed by wrong-way drunk driver on Long Island 03:18

Hundreds of family members and friends of the victims packed a courtroom in Hempstead for the alleged drunk driver's arraignment.

"I feel as if a bomb just went off. All of us were near it. How do you come back from this?" Roslyn resident Ronit Hakimi said.

"When we heard the news this morning, we were lifeless," said Shiwalli Walia, a friend of the victims.

Amandeep Singh, 34, said nothing as he was led to court. Police say he drove a pickup truck the wrong way down North Broadway in Jericho, causing the catastrophic event. Police say Singh tried running away from the scene but was caught a short time later.

"On this particular night this subject decides to drink and drive so much, it was twice the legal limit. He was swerving in and out of lanes and kids have nowhere to go," Nassau County Police Det. Capt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said.

Watch Nassau County Police update on investigation  

Police update on Jericho crash that killed 2 teens 07:20

At Singh's Albertson home, where he lives with his wife and two children, a relative declined comment. Prosecutors told the judge he had twice before faced DWI charges, as a juvenile.

"There is no question this is an unmitigated tragedy, but as I said in court, this is an otherwise law-abiding man," defense attorney James Kousouros said.

The two boys who died were eighth graders, best friends and tennis stars. Hassenbein was ranked first in the nation at age 12. Falkowitz was also a bright star and regularly trained at Sportime.

"It's absolutely heartbreaking. For this to happen in the tennis community to two such special boys is crushing. I'm not sure how everyone gets through this really, really tough day," Sportime tennis director Jay Harris said.

Falkowitz's coach of six years said both boys were driven and had infectious personalities.

"They were just two guys that people loved to be around. People would watch -- what's Drew doing? What's Ethan doing?" Harris said.

"Our heart goes out to the families. Rest assured, the perpetrator of that accident will be brought to justice," Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said.

A moment of silence was observed by Blakeman on Thursday.

The four teens had just played tennis matches in Syosset and went out for dinner, doing the right thing, said police, building a future that for two of them that now will never be.

In court, the crowd erupted in applause when Singh was ordered held without bail.

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