FARMINGVILLE, NY — A Brooklyn man pleaded guilty Friday after a high-speed crash took the life of a 9-year-old boy, who was in his booster seat, Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said.
Travis Dickerson, 32, was driving 119 miles per hour with a revoked license while impaired by alcohol and marijuana, the DA said.
Dickson, 32, of Brooklyn, pleaded guilty to driving his vehicle at the “extremely high rate of speed” on the Long Island Expressway and crashing into the back of another vehicle, killing the child, Tierney said.
According to court documents and the defendant’s admissions during his guilty plea allocution, on August 22, 2022, at about 1:49 a.m., Dickson drove a 2018 BMW 540i westbound on the
Long Island Expressway at 119 miles per hour, while he was impaired by a combination of alcohol and marijuana, the DA said. Dickson then struck the back of the other vehicle, making no attempt to use the vehicle’s brakes prior to the impact, the DA said.
The child, Angel Salas, restrained in a booster seat, was with his father, Bruce Koch, 49, of Deer Park, who was driving, officials said at the time.
Juliana Salas, Angel’s heartbroken mother, spoke with Patch after Dickerson’s guilty plea Friday.
“I don’t know why this is Angel’s legacy and why this is now my current journey,” she said. “All I know is God is with me and has been so every step of the way. All I can do is make the best decisions moving forward in good faith. We can’t control other people’s choices, actions and least of all, we can’t erase the past. I hope people feel inspired to make sound judgements, live soberly, and prioritize their family and health. I hope people stop telling grieving families affected by drunk drivers, how ‘strong’ they are. We have no choice in the matter but to press on. #Nomorevictims.”
Angel was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition due to the injuries sustained from the crash, the DA said.
Koch was also taken to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, officials said.
On August 24, 2022, doctors declared the child brain dead, and he was ultimately removed from life support after arrangements were made to donate his organs, the DA said.
Following the crash, Dickson exhibited signs of intoxication, made admissions to smoking
marijuana, and law enforcement found marijuana on his person, Tierney said. A sample of Dickson’s blood drawn approximately three hours after the crash revealed a blood alcohol concentration of .14 percent and the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, Tierney said.
Law enforcement also determined that Dickson’s New York State driver’s license was revoked at the time he was driving the BMW, the DA said.
On February 9, Dickson pleaded guilty before Acting Supreme Court Justice Richard Horowitz, to the following charges, Tierney said:
– Second-degree manslaughter, a Class C felony;
– Second-degree vehicular-degree manslaughter, a Class D felony;
– Second-degree assault, a Class D felony;
– Third-degree assault, a misdemeanor;
– Driving while intoxicated and driving while impaired by the combined influence of alcohol and a drug, an unclassified misdemeanor;
– Reckless driving, a misdemeanor; and
– Third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, an unclassified misdemeanor.
Dickson faces a sentence of four-and-a-half to 13 and a half years in prison, Tierney said. He is due back in court for sentencing on April 5 and is being represented by Douglas Rankin, who told Patch he had no comment.
Angel Salas saved three people with his organ donations, a LiveOnNY spokesman said.
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Salas was removed from the ventilator that was keeping him alive and was given an “honor walk,” which is a special tribute in which all hospital employees line the hallway, as his body was wheeled into an operating room, LiveOnNY confirmed.
Three people between New York and Florida were saved by Salas’ donation, said Leonard Achan, LiveOnNY president and CEO, in a statement.
“Angel Salas, a precious 9-year-old New Yorker who tragically lost his life after an alleged drunk driver hit the car he was in, became an organ donor hero after his family generously gave the gift of life,” he said.
“This defendant’s dangerous actions caused the unthinkable death of a nine-year-old child in a booster seat and serious injuries to his father,” said Tierney. “No family deserves to go through the heartache of losing a family member, let alone a child, to a drunk or drug-impaired driver. We hope that today’s guilty plea brings some measure of closure to the victim’s family.”
With reporting by Peggy Spellman Hoey.
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