The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado pickup Lisa Rooney was driving when she allegedly struck and killed 28-year-old bicyclist John James Usma-Quintero was moving at 85 miles per hour at the time, according to prosecuting attorney Carl Borelli.
The speed of the truck at the time of the October 30 crash on Flamingo Road in Montauk that occurred shortly after dark was determined, Borelli said, by examining the truck’s black box. Rooney was arraigned January 13 in the Central Islip courtroom of Justice Fernando Camacho on six felony and five misdemeanor charges, the most serious of which being vehicular homicide, which is based on Rooney’s alleged .18 of one percent or higher blood alcohol percentage. That level is also the basis of the first-degree manslaughter charge. The aggravated misdemeanor driving while intoxicated charge she faces, while not based on the extrapolation from blood drawn as the result of a court order three-and-a-half hours after the incident, is based on a second previously-undisclosed blood test performed at a hospital after the crash.
According to Borelli, the northbound Rooney lost control of the truck, veering into the southbound lane, then, overcompensating, swung the pickup across the road and onto the northbound shoulder, striking and killing Usma-Quintero before veering onto the grass further east and striking a guardrail.
Borelli said that Rooney appeared drunk to first responders and police. In addition, besides the high alcohol level detected by the blood test, it also revealed the presence of trace amounts of cocaine, Borelli said, adding that police found “several bags” of cocaine in the truck cab, leading to a misdemeanor possession charge.
The homicide charge, which carries a potential sentence of up to 25 years in state prison, is not on the list of crimes a judge can set bail on in New York under the new bail reform laws. A lesser felony charge, assault with a weapon — the truck — does carry the possibility of bail, Borelli said, but asked instead that Rooney be required to wear a remote alcohol-monitoring bracelet, surrender her passport, and be placed in a drug treatment program.
Marc Gann, Rooney’s attorney, countered that Rooney is in treatment.
“She has been since shortly after the accident,” he said, adding that she is now living in the New York City as part of an in-house program, and is always accompanied by her counselor, who was one of Rooney’s two dozen or so supporters in the courtroom.
Justice Camacho agreed to delay requiring the bracelet until after Rooney is discharged from the drug treatment program, and accepted Rooney’s passport from Gann. Rooney is due back in court March 2.
Rooney’s supporters were seated on one side of the court room, while Usma-Quintero’s aunt and cousin sat on the other.
“She destroyed our whole family,” his cousin Jennifer Cano said after. She and Usma-Quintero’s aunt, Mercedes Geraldo, were the first family members to arrive at the hospital to identify his body. Cano said his ashes were returned to his native Colombia. “We want justice,” Cano said.