Suffern Teen Sentenced in Fatal 2021 Crash
A teen from Airmont, NY has been sentenced after pleading guilty to all counts after an April 2021 car crash that seriously injured three passengers, and took the life of one.
The news of the sentencing comes from Rockland County District Attorney Thomas E. Walsh II, who shared that 18-year-old Joseph DeBellis pled guilty to all 17 counts. Reports indicate that The People offered DeBellis the opportunity to plead guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide with an agreed-upon sentence of 1 1/3 - 4 years in state prison, however, DeBellis declined and instead pled guilty to all seventeen counts of the indictment.
This plea allowed for the sentence of six months incarceration, followed by a period of five years' probation over the People’s objection. Sentencing took place on March 15, 2022.
The DA's report indicated that DeBellis pled guilty to the following charges: aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular manslaughter in the second degree, manslaughter in the second degree, four (4) counts of assault in the second degree, vehicular assault in the first degree, four (4) counts of vehicular assault in the second degree, two (2) counts of driving while intoxicated, driving while ability impaired by drugs, driving while ability impaired by the combined influence of drugs and alcohol, and reckless driving.
The incident that claimed the life of one and seriously injured three others took place on April 24, 2021, at approximately 2:50 AM. DeBellis was the driver of a vehicle traveling on Rt. 202 in the Village of Montebello and had a total of 5 occupants in the car. DeBellis was said to be driving recklessly, at speeds in excess of 80mph, driving drunk and high, and eventually lost control of the car and crashed into a utility pole.
District Attorney Walsh shared the following sentiments:
No parent should ever have to bury their own child. Drinking while driving is an egregious offense that is easily preventable. We must use tragic events this as learning lessons for our teens, that your actions and decisions have real consequences. My heartfelt sympathies go out to the Suffern community and the families impacted by this tragedy.