Two people were killed and seven others were injured after a fiery five-car pileup on the Nassau Expressway between Bay Boulevard and Burnside Avenue near Rockaway Turnpike in Lawrence 1:40 a.m. on April 4.
One of the two people killed was Elisheva Kaplan, the daughter of Joel Kaplan, the cantor for Congregation Beth Sholom, in Lawrence. Kaplan, 20, a Far Rockaway resident, was in a car with her fiancé, Yisroel Levin, 21, from the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, who also died. They got engaged a week ago and were to be married in three months. In a video on YouTube, the car in which the couple, who were to be married in three months, can be seen in flames.
The funeral service for both, attended by thousands, was held at Yeshiva Darchai Torah in Far Rockaway on April 5. Kaplan was buried at Beth David Cemetery in Elmont. She is survived by her parents. Joel and Leah Kaplan, siblings Mosey Kaplan, Yaffi Kaplan, Meir Kaplan, Mimi Levinson, Rivky Rokowsky, A.J. Kaplan, Yona Engelberg, Bryna Kaplan, Chavi Kohanreb, Yitzy Kaplan and Faigy Kaplan.
Levin was buried in Israel on April 8. He is survived by his parents, Rabbi Shaya and Leba Levin, and siblings Rabbi Shmuel Dovid Levin, Rabbi Eli Levin, Rabbi Yaakov Levin, Rabbi Yoel Levin, Rabbi Ephraim Mordechai Levin, Faigy Jacobson, Chaya Raizy Horowitz and Itty Levin.
Zakiyyah Steward, 25, of Park Avenue, and Rahmel Watkins, 35, of Quincy Street, both from Brooklyn, were arrested on April 4. Steward is charged with driving while ability was impaired with drugs/alcohol, driving while intoxicated and unlawful possession of marijuana. Watkins was charged with DWI. He was hospitalized. Both are being in custody. Both are due back in court on April 9.
The Nassau Expressway from Bay Boulevard to Burnside Avenue was closed for roughly 19 hours after the accident. The investigation is continuing, police said.
The Lawrence-Cedarhurst, Inwood and the Woodmere fire departments responded as well as Nassau county police, FDNY and NYPD.