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Suspect in fatal New Hyde Park drunken driving crash previously accused of speeding

Suspect in fatal New Hyde Park crash had prior speeding charge
Suspect in fatal New Hyde Park crash had prior speeding charge 02:21

NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. - It was a tragic crash in Nassau County

Three women out celebrating at a sweet 16 party were killed when police say a suspected drunk driver broadsided their car

As CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reports, the 22-year-old driver is now charged with vehicular manslaughter. 

Flowers adorn the turnpike median, steps from the Inn at New Hyde Park, where emotions are raw. 

"It's horrible. I could cry. It's horrifying. I was in bed sleeping, and I just heard this big bang," one person said. 

It was just after 11 p.m. Saturday, following a sweet 16 party, relatives got into their Lincoln Town Car at the Inn and attempted to turn westbound onto Jericho Turnpike. 

"As he proceeded to to make the left turn, a 2012 Mercedes Benz traveling at a high rate of speed broadsided the Lincoln Continental. As a result of that collision, three females were pronounced deceased at the scene," said Det. Capt. Stephen Fitzpatrick of the Nassau County police. 

Killed were 68-year-old Marlen Lu of Woodside, Queens, the child's grandmother, 68-year-old Ho Hua of Woodside, the aunt, and 41-year-old Tu Nguyen of North Carolina, a cousin. 

An observer said it was an intimate celebration of dinner, dancing and toasts to the sweet 16 girl. Moments later, her loved ones were dead. 

Police arrested Dante Lennon, 22, of Freeport. He has been charged with drunken driving, vehicular manslaughter, and speeding. 

"He displayed signs of intoxication at the scene. He was arrested, transported to a local hospital," Fitzpatrick said. 

Lennon maintained his innocence at his hospital bedside arraignment. 

"We are going to start an initiative here in the police department - taking back our roads, writing more summonses doing more interactions, more DWI roadblocks," said Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder. 

Residents want more stop signs and traffic lights. The speed limit is 35. 

"The street is terrifying. It's a really bad street," one person said. "You see there's not much traffic lights here. So they speed up a lot." 

"This is not something uncommon to this intersection?" McLogan asked. 

"Oh my God, not. There's been accidents here," was the reply. 

"Please, for Memorial Day, do not drink and drive. You will have tragic consequences, and if you do so, you will bear the full brunt of the law," said Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman. 

Community leaders are praying for the Lu family and the innocent victims. 

Suspect Dante Lennon has a prior charge of speeding. 

When reached by phone, a Lennon relative said the family was cooperating with the investigation. 

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