Riverhead man admits to driving drunk, pleads guilty to manslaughter in fatal December crash

A Riverhead man pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree vehicular manslaughter in the fatal December crash that claimed the life of a passenger in Flanders, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office announced in a press release.

Santiago Monzon-Archila, 40, also admitted to driving while intoxicated. The DA said he was driving at nearly twice the legal limit when the crash occurred at 5 a.m. on Dec. 17, 2021.

“This tragedy could have been avoided if the defendant didn’t drive drunk, period,” District Attorney Raymond Tierney said in a statement. “Instead, he chose to endanger Suffolk County residents through his reckless conduct and in the process caused the death of his passenger.”

The vehicle landed upside down at the home in the early morning crash. (Courtesy photo)

Mr. Monzon-Archila previously told investigators he lost control of his vehicle on Flanders Road and crashed through an iron fence, into a parked truck and then through a wood fence, causing the car to go airborne. He ended up crashing into a house on Flanders Road, striking it while his car was about 10 feet in the air, the DA’s office said.

Mr. Monzon-Archila’s car landed in an upside down position and he was trapped before cutting himself out of his seatbelt.

Passenger Edis Noe Hernandez Nunez, 36, was ejected from the vehicle during the crash and was pronounced dead at Peconic Bay Medical Center two days later.

Mr. Monzon-Archila would later tell police that he and his passenger had been drinking beer since 7 p.m. the night before. Beer cans were recovered at the crash scene, according to a press release, and a blood test revealed the driver had a .13% blood alcohol content.

Mr. Monzon-Archila faces between 5 and 15 years in prison when he appears before Supreme Court Justice Richard I. Horowitz for sentencing July 22.