A Mineola cement truck driver, who was involved in a fatal accident in July 2012 which killed a school bus driver, seriously injured the bus attendant and injured four children, was high on prescription narcotics at the time of the crash, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said Wednesday.
Raymond Ragen, 44, was held on $75,000 bail during his arraignment at First District Court in Hempstead on Wednesday. According to the DA, Ragen was driving a 13-foot, 3-inch high cement truck, when he crashed into a Long Island Railroad overpass on Oyster Bay Road in Matinecock around 3:15 p.m. on July 23, 2012.
The force of the collision propelled the cement truck into oncoming traffic, where Ragen collided with a school bus carrying special-needs children home from summer camp. The bus driver, 45-year-old Jorge Guevara suffered extensive internal injuries, the DA said. Emergency crews at the scene amputated Guevara’s leg and attempted to extricate him. He was alive for approximately 30 minutes, pinned inside the bus, but died from his injuries before first responders could remove him.
An attendant on the bus, a 64-year-old man, suffered multiple fractures which required surgey, including a broken and dislocated hip and a fractured wrist, a news release said. The man had metal hardware inserted in his hips and knees and now requires a wheelchair or cane to get around.
All four children on board the bus, between the ages of six and nine, suffered injuries. Three of the special-needs children suffered minor injuries, but the forth suffered a fractured jaw, as well as face and body injuries. According to the District Attorney, the young boy now has permanent facial scarring and a detached lip.
An investigation conducted by district attorney investigators, Nassau County police detectives and federal Drug Enforcement Agency agents revealed that Ragen was “high on Valium at the time of the crash,” a news release said. Investigators also used GPS data from the truck to reveal that Ragen was aware that his truck couldn’t fit under the overpass. “He had driven up to the bridge a few hours earlier and been forced to perform a U-turn.”
“The incredible violence and pain inflicted upon Mr. Guevara cannot be overstated, nor can the physical and emotional trauma suffered by the other five bus passengers,” Rice said.
Ragen was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, second-degree manslaughter, second-degree vehicular manslaughter, aggravated vehicular assault, first-degree vehicular assault, two counts of second-degree assault, three counts of third-degree assault, driving while impaired by drugs, reckless driving, second-degree reckless endangerment, unlicensed operation of a vehicle, two counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and driving while talking on a cell phone. He remains in custody and is due back in court on Feb. 20.