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May 27, 2009 1:39 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

18-year-old charged with DWI pleads not guilty

May 27, 2009 1:39 PM

An 18-year-old Shirley man is charged with DWI in connection with an early morning accident on County Road 39 in Southampton that left two people critically injured on Monday.

Accompanied by his family, Ryan Rozynski pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Southampton Village Justice Court on Tuesday morning. He was unable to post the $500,000 bail set by Southampton Village Justice Barbara Wilson and was remanded to the Suffolk County Jail.

The two-car accident occurred at 4:20 a.m. Monday on the eastern side of the intersection of County Road 39 and North Sea Road, just in front of the 7-Eleven.

According to Southampton Village Police Chief William Wilson Jr., a taxicab van from Hometown Taxi had been making a left turn off County Road 39 and into the 7-Eleven parking lot when a Hyundai SUV driven by Mr. Rozynski smashed into its right side. It’s not yet clear how fast the SUV had been going, Southampton Village Detective Sergeant Herman Lamison said on Monday afternoon.

He added that Mr. Rozynski submitted to a blood test prior to the DWI arrest, but would not say what his blood alcohol content was at the time.

On Wednesday, Village Police identified the victims as Tatyana Yusupova, 25, Elisca N. Joy, 28, Phillip A. Ward, 31, and Brian Cano, 33. Chief Wilson said the four had been staying together in a group rental home in Southampton Town, though he did not know exactly where.

He noted that police are checking on the condition of Ms. Yusupova and Mr. Ward, both of whom are still listed in critical condition, every few hours, and that additional charges may be filed against Mr. Rozynski if either patient’s condition worsens.

County Road 39 was closed for about six hours on Memorial Day as personnel from the Suffolk County Crime Lab investigated the scene.

Justice Wilson did not allow members of the public into the courtroom during Mr. Rozynski’s arraignment. According to Mr. Rozynski’s attorney, Tad M. Scharfenberg of Bohemia and East Hampton, Justice Wilson made the proceedings private after she deemed the teenager a youthful offender.

Under New York State law, any person under the age of 19 who commits a crime, save certain felonies, can be prosecuted as a youthful offender. That status means that the proceedings can be made private at the court’s discretion. Calls to Mr. Scharfenberg requesting additional information on Mr. Rozynski’s youthful offender status were not immediately returned.

If the criminal charge is upgraded to a felony, Mr. Rozynski may no longer be eligible to be considered a youthful offender.

On Wednesday, Det. Sgt. Lamison said he did not want to speculate on the additional charges that could be filed against Mr. Rozynski, though those charges would “more than likely” be felonies.

According to Chief Wilson, Mr. Rozynski is also facing charges for an unrelated incident in November, when he was charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a misdemeanor. Public records state that he was due to appear in Suffolk County 1st District Court yesterday, May 27, on those charges. Mr. Rozynski’s attorney, Mr. Scharfenberg, is also representing him in that case.

All three ambulances from the Southampton Volunteer Ambulance Corps and two from the Southampton Village Volunteer Ambulance Corps responded to the accident on Monday morning to take all six people to Southampton Hospital. Ms. Yusupova and Mr. Ward, who suffered the most serious injuries, were later transported to Stony Brook University Medical Center.

After the arraignment on Tuesday, a man who identified himself as Mr. Rozynski’s father, but who would not provide his name, said he believed the accident had been caused by the taxi driver and that his son had not been drunk.

“[The taxi driver] blocked the lane,” he said, appearing agitated as he and his family quickly walked to their minivan. “He was in his lane. [My son] didn’t see him. [The driver] made a very illegal turn, very illegal. He caused that accident. My son was not intoxicated. My son had a glass of wine, perhaps. That’s all there is to it. This is unbelievable.”

The man declined to tell reporters what happened that morning or where his son was coming from or going to at the time of the crash.

“All I’ll say at this time is his family is devastated, and my client is devastated that people were hurt,” said Mr. Scharfenberg. “Hopefully, everybody makes it out of this. I will say, though, that from what I understand the other vehicle actually made a left in front of my car, and I think that’s what, if anything, might have very well been the cause of this accident. But at this point in time, it’s just a tragedy.” He noted that his office is conducting its own investigation of the accident.

In a press release issued Monday by Southampton Village Police, the driver of the taxicab van was identified as 31-year-old Ihsan Peker of Southampton. Mr. Peker was issued a summons for failure to obey a traffic device because he crossed over the double yellow line when making the turn into the 7-Eleven parking lot, using an entrance designed for eastbound traffic only.

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