A 5o-year-old Aquebogue man involved in a double fatal crash in Nassau County earlier this month was re-arrested Monday and is facing upgraded charges after blood tests revealed he was impaired by drugs at the time of the crash, authorities said.
Robert Beodeker, who was initially charged with reckless driving and aggravated driving without a license after the March 4 Meadowbrook Parkway crash, had been free on $1,000 bail.
He is now facing aggravated vehicular manslaughter, two counts of second-degree vehicular manslaughter, two counts of criminally negligent homicide and driving while ability impaired by drugs, according to a criminal complaint.
He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top charge.
He was arraigned Friday in First District Court in Hempstead, where he pleaded not guilty to the new charges and was ordered held on $1 million bond or $500,000 cash bail, said a spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.
The complaint states his blood contained .17 percent of methamphetamine and .12 percent of amphetamine at the time of the crash.
Police said he consented to a blood test.
Mr. Beodeker’s lawyer, N. Richard Wool of Plainview, said prosecutors “had no lab report [at the arraignment] to show that he did anything wrong.”
“He’s a good guy,” Mr. Wool said in an interview. “Obviously, he’s been dean of students at Suffolk Community for 20 years. He’s a nice, respectful man who has never been arrested before in his life.”
Mr. Beodeker, an associate dean for student services at Suffolk County Community College, was heading south on the Meadowbrook about 12:40 p.m. in Roosevelt when he struck a disabled Nissan Maxima and two pedestrians that were tending to the sedan, police said.
The pedestrians, John Elder, 76, of Freeport and Edward Ross, 65, of North Bellmore died at the scene.
The victims were both in the Nissan before it broke down, according to a police report. They had stopped the car in the parkway’s hazard markings, police said.
State police said the car was pulled over on the right shoulder near where three southbound lanes merge to two.
Mr. Beodeker, who was driving a 2012 GMC pickup truck, “either didn’t observe or failed to see that the lanes were merging, and he struck the vehicle that was broken down and was being worked on by the two individuals that were killed,” a state police investigator told Newsday after the crash.
At his March 5 arraignment on the initial charges, he told the court he had taken Ambien and depression medication before the crash, according to a News12 report. He was released on bail after pleading not guilty.
Aside from his work at Suffolk’s Eastern Campus, Mr. Beodeker also teaches at Columbia University’s Teachers College and has been active for years in the North Fork’s performing arts community.
“The authorities continue to investigate this tragedy,” Mary Lou Araneo, a spokeswoman with Suffolk County Comomunity College, said Friday afternoon. “The college is monitoring the details as they emerge and we continue to assess the circumstances as they unfold.”
He is known locally as an actor, director and was a president of the North Fork Community Theatre group in Mattituck. He has also been involved with the Riverhead Faculty and Community Theatre group, which traditionally puts on a fall show at the high school.
He stepped down as North Fork Community Theatre president after the crash, theater officials said
“He’s very upset,” Mr. Wool said when asked about Mr. Beodeker’s state of mind. “Based on that fact that, whether there’s a criminal charge or no criminal charges he’s very upset that two people are not alive today. But this is all new to him. He’s never been arrested, never mind convicted.”