BROOKHAVEN, N.Y., Nov. 27 (UPI) -- A man got onto a Long Island highway driving the wrong way early Sunday morning after celebrating his birthday, causing two deaths, and inadvertently getting an emergency responder injured while he was responding to the crash.
Kevin Melgar headed east in the westbound lane of Sunrise Highway in Brookhaven around 4 a.m. Sunday morning, eventually crashing head-on into Ozcan Ayyidiz. Melgar was pronounced dead at the scene, Ayyidiz later died at the hospital and Melgar's passenger, his cousin, is in critical condition.
"I was crying the whole day, mourning with my family," Kevin Melgar's brother, Justin, told WCBS-TV. "It's his birthday, like, we didn't want this to happen on his birthday."
Melgar and his cousin Johnathan Valladarez were on their way home in a white 2004 Infiniti and got on the Sunrise Highway, hitting Ayyidiz's 2001 Chrysler van head-on. Emergency responders pronounced Melgar dead on the scene and Valladarez was taken to a hospital where he remains in critical condition.
Ayyidiz, who was on his way to work at the time, was taken to a hospital but did not survive his injuries. Police say it is likely he was in the proper lane and following other traffic laws, pinning the crash on Melgar.
While police were investigating the crash, a street sweeper drove through a road closure and hit two police vehicles. One officer was hurt in the secondary crash and airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital, receiving treatent for non-life-threatening injuries.
One person who lives near the Sunrise Highway entrance said more signage is needed because it can be confusing if you don't live in the area -- which may help prevent crashes like the one involving Ayyidiz, Valladarez and Melgar.
"Saying, 'One way, wrong way, do not come this way' [isn't enough] because some of the traffic on the service roads is two-way traffic, some of it is not, so that's very confusing if you don't live around here," said Darlene Chanda.