2004-06-18 / Front Page

Six Hurt In Prom Nightmare Crash

By Brian Magoolaghan

Six Hurt In Prom Nightmare Crash

Emmanuel Luna’s Pontiac was wrecked in the incident in which Luna and five others were injured.Emmanuel Luna’s Pontiac was wrecked in the incident in which Luna and five others were injured.

By Brian Magoolaghan

A teenage drag racer was arrested and his five passengers spent the final hours of prom night in the hospital after their speeding car went out of control, smashed into a fire hydrant and overturned in Broad Channel last Friday morning.

Police said 18-year-old Emmanuel Luna, with five other teenage passengers in his Pontiac Grand Prix, was racing south on Cross Bay Boulevard with Ralph Rodriguez, 40, when Luna lost control on the curve near 6 Road and crashed at about 5:30 a.m. Luna and his friends, two young men and three young women, were bound for the beach after a night of celebration. Instead, they wound up in area hospitals where they were treated for pain and abrasions – lucky to be alive.

Luna and Rodriguez, who was driving a black Mercedes-Benz, were arrested and charged with two counts of reckless endangerment and one count of reckless driving each, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown’s office. Luna was released on his own recognizance while Rodriguez, who has a history of criminal convictions, was held on $50,000 bail. Neither could be reached for comment.

Police said Luna’s inexperience and excessive speed were the cause of the prom night disaster. He quickly got into trouble as he tried to avoid swiping Rodriguez when the two cars entered the curve near 6 Road. Luna lost control as he hit the brakes. The traffic light, which only becomes visible about halfway through the curve, may have also been a contributing factor.

It was unclear if the teenagers, who were all from central Queens, were wearing their seatbelts. None of the passengers were thrown from the vehicle. The father of one of the young women told The Wave that his unconscious daughter had to be pulled from the wrecked Pontiac. He said the teens attended the Benjamin Cordozo High School prom and then partied afterwards at the Copacabana in Manhattan. He said his daughter is "pissed off" at Luna and added that he contacted a lawyer to represent her.

Luna’s Pontiac sat in the 100 Precinct parking lot this week – the latest car to meet its demise on Cross Bay Boulevard – with blood stains on both front driver and passenger-side airbags. A gold Brooks Brothers tie laid next to a pair of gloves used by rescuers on the crumpled backseat.

Luna and Rodriguez are both due back in Queens Criminal Court separately next week.

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