Cecilia DowdJun 20, 2018, 5:55 pmJun 21, 2018, 7:11 am

2 drivers arraigned in multi-car crash that killed newly engaged couple

Officials say 1 of them was under the influence of alcohol, marijuana


MINEOLA — A man and woman were arraigned Wednesday for allegedly causing the deaths of a young man and woman from the Rockaways in a multi-car crash.

The father of one of the victims, Joel Kaplan, says the families of his daughter Elisheva Kaplan and Yisroel Levin are enduring never-ending heartbreak.

Kaplan and Levin were killed in a multi-car crash on the Nassau Expressway in early April. They were supposed to be married this month.

“The world shook when they were so abruptly taken from us so tragically and with such violent force,” Kaplan said.

On Wednesday, Rahmel Watkins and Zakiyyah Steward faced a judge in connection to the deadly crash. Both are charged with manslaughter and Steward faces aggravated vehicular homicide among others.

“Reckless driving, speeding; one of them impaired by both marijuana and alcohol, crossing over a yellow line in the early morning hours on the misty and foggy morning with reports of almost double the speed limit,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said.

Steward and Watkins were driving in separate cars, authorities said.

Watkins, who was on parole at the time of the crash and has an extensive criminal history, was allegedly behind the wheel of a BMW, striking the victims' car head-on, according to prosecutors

Singas expressed her frustration with the car company BMW. She says she's asked BMW for help in finding out if the car Watkins had allegedly been driving during the incident had perhaps the capability to store and record information like speed.

Singas says BMW has been uncooperative.

“They have repeatedly and inexplicably refused to assist us,” Singas said.

FiOS1 News reached out to BMW for comment but have not heard back.

Both defendants pleaded not guilty and are being held on hundreds of thousands of dollars in bail.

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