Homeless man sentenced to 15 years for assault, DWI in West Hempstead


Luis DeJesus, a homeless man who pleaded guilty for running over a teenage skateboarder with his minivan in Oct. 2017 — seriously injuring the then 14-year-old victim — in West Hempstead, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Monday. DeJesus, 43, pleaded guilty to assault in the first degree and aggravated driving while intoxicated before Supervising Judge Teresa Corrigan in September. “This defendant acted with a depraved indifference to human life when he maliciously drove his van into a group of teenagers,” said District Attorney Madeline Singas in a news release. “Our young victim suffered catastrophic injuries the night he was hit by that van, but through the exemplary work of doctors, nurses, his family and his own strength, he survived.”

Singas said that on October 27, 2017, at approximately 5:45 p.m., seven teenage boys were walking and skateboarding together in the parking lot of the Cherry Valley Shopping Center in West Hempstead. As they were walking, a blue minivan being driven by DeJesus drove by them and then made a U-turn.

DeJesus revved the minivan’s engine and drove directly at the teenagers. Several of the boys jumped out of the way of the oncoming vehicle, but Nicholas Suarez, who was riding his skateboard, was struck and dragged underneath the van.

A group of good Samaritans held DeJesus until Nassau County Police Department officers arrived and arrested him. A further investigation determined that he was drunk at the time of the crash.

Following the incident, Suarez — now 15 — was taken to NYU Winthrop Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery for internal bleeding and was hospitalized for five weeks in the Intensive Care Unit.

To this day, the victim attends physical therapy three times a week, continues to suffer a brain bleed, permanent vision damage to his left eye, and has a large pulmonary embolism. He has returned to school on a part-time basis.