2007-01-05 / Community

Rockaway Woman Kills Youth In Lynbrook Accident

By Howard Schwach

Nassau County police officers are investigating whether or not dark clothing was a contributing factor in a deadly motor vehicle accident that left a teenager dead on New Year's Eve.

Police officials say that preschool teacher Lori Friedman of Far Rockaway was driving her 2000 Lincoln sedan westbound on Peninsula Boulevard near the intersection of Scranton Avenue in Lynbrook at about 11:11 p.m. on December 31, when Matthew Valenza, 16, of Lynbrook was jogging across the wide boulevard, on his way from one holiday party to another.

Friedman struck Valenza causing serious injuries to his head and torso.

Friedman, 22, told police that she did not see Valenza until her vehicle struck him.

Police say that Valenza had been at a "Black and White Party" and was dressed from head to toe in black clothing. He was with a group of friends when he ran into the street and was struck by Friedman's vehicle,

Friedman told police that she was traveling home after a holiday party in Hempstead and was driving "30 to 35 miles an hour" at the time of the accident.

Friedman, who teaches in a Woodmere school, told Newsday reporter Michael Frazier, "The kid just all of a sudden ran out into the middle of the street. He was wearing dark clothing and crossed four lanes of traffic."

"All of a sudden, he just ran out," she added. I pressed on the brakes, but he rolled off the front of my car."

After she hit Valenza, Friedman stopped and called 911. The teen was transported to South Nassau University Hospital in Oceanside, where he was declared dead on arrival.

"At this point, it appears the pedestrian was crossing against the light, wearing dark clothing when he was struck," a Nassau County Police official said.

After the accident, Friedman was transported to Southside University Hospital, where she was treated for trauma and stress. Police say that a Breathalyzer test was given to Friedman at the scene that revealed that she had not been drinking.

Friedman was not charged with any wrongdoing. Her vehicle was impounded for brake and safety inspection.

Nassau investigators are reportedly waiting for toxicology reports from the Nassau County Medical Examiner's office to see if Valenza had consumed drugs or alcohol in the hours prior to the accident and were also investigating his activities earlier in the evening. Friedman was not available for comment and a call to Valenza's home in Lynbrook elicited only a comment that the family was in mourning.

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