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Drunk Driver Slams Into WH Building

Driver crashes into building causes reroutes, gridlock

Hours after a vehicle crashed into a building in West Hempstead on Nov. 29, police reopened all lanes on Hempstead Turnpike and Westminster Road that had been closed as an accident investigation was conducted.

Nassau County Police have released details about the crash after a medical examiner was at the scene around 11 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Police said the accident was reported around 5:48 a.m. in a 911 call. The driver was 18-year old Daritza Lopez of Uniondale, who was operating a green two-door compact vehicle in the eastbound lane of Hempstead Turnpike when she lost control of the vehicle and struck a parked car, crossed over the westbound lane.

The driver crashed through a fence on the property of an abandoned gas station and crashed into the wall of an adjacent building, according to authorities. Lopez had been operating the vehicle without a license, police said.

According to police, 28-year old passenger Herica Contreras of Uniondale was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said Lopez was transported to Nassau University Medical Center to be treated for injuries due to crashing into the wall.

The incident brought the morning rush-hour commute to a standstill and especially impacted students attempting to reach the nearby St. Thomas the Apostle School on Westminster Road, as police had closed four blocks surrounding the school, police stated.

Traffic was backed up from Westminster Road west to Poplar Street and east to where President Street becomes Cathedral Avenue initially after the accident, according to authorities. Calls from detectives involved with the investigation were not immediately returned.

Lopez has been charged with second-degree manslaughter, second-degree vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated, third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and unlicensed operator. She will be arraigned as soon as medically practical.