NASSAU COUNTY, L.I. — A 15-year-old girl charged in the deaths of three teenage passengers when she was allegedly behind the wheel of a stolen SUV appeared before a judge Monday with her arm in a sling.
Cindy Sanchez's defense attorney said his client is shocked, depressed and in disbelief.
“She was not supposed to drive that day. The information I have available to me is there was another designated driver who was intoxicated and she had assumed the role of driver,” said James Toner, her defense attorney.
But the 15-year-old, who is being charged as a juvenile currently, didn’t have a license of her own.
A judge on Monday arraigned the teen on three counts of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. She’s been remanded to Nassau University Medical Center for a full physical and mental evaluation.
Investigators with the New York State Police said she was driving the five-seat Chevy Trailblazer with 10 people packed inside, including her own 18-month-old child and 13-year-old brother, who died in the crash.
State police initially said witnesses told them the SUV’s driver was speeding, driving erratically and swerving in between traffic before the crash.
State police had said the driver veered to the left, then overcorrected and lost control of the SUV, which then overturned "several times" before coming to a rest in a marsh off the right-hand shoulder of the Meadowbrook State Parkway near Exit M9 in Freeport.
The teen’s attorney said she lost control but was not driving erratically.
“There is no information available to me that she was swerving in and out of traffic or that she was driving recklessly. She just lost control of the vehicle,” Toner said.
The group, according to her attorney, was skipping school that day to go to Jones Beach.
“This wasn’t that unusual. A bunch of teenagers wanted to go to the beach, decided to take a car for transportation, it’s not out of the ordinary,” Toner said.
“She’s just like any other teenager. She did not have the experience to be operating this car and certainly not at any rate of speed and she lost control."
The driver's brother David Sanchez was among three victims killed when they were ejected from the sheer impact of the crash.
Also killed were Herbert Leo Aviles Maravilla, 16, and Marlon Carbajal, 15, according to NY State Police. The other passengers suffered minor injuries. All were from Uniondale.
Police initially said the SUV had been reported stolen the day before the wreck, but the teen’s defense attorney said that is not the case.
"The car belong to one of the kids fathers,” he said. "Whether they took his car without his permission, it certainly was not the grand theft auto we’ve read about in the newspaper.”
State police are asking any witnesses to the crash to call 631-756-3300.