A Wantagh man who was charged in a DWI crash on the Southern State Parkway Monday was convicted of manslaughter in the vehicle-related death of a Wantagh High School student in 1984, prosecutors said.
Joseph DeSantis' most recent arrest came on the 29th anniversary of the tragic incident in the parking lot of the Wantagh LIRR station, which left a 17-year-old girl dead.
"I hadn't realized, that. It was one of the worst days of my life," Desantis said when he was told of the coincidence involving both arrests, "There's not a day in my life I don't think of it."
On Nov. 18, 1984, Desantis was behind the wheel of a car that tapped bumpers with another vehicle, according to news accounts at the time. The high school student, Sheila Bast, was in the other vehicle.
DeSantis, then 22, and his co-defendent at the time Glen Hansen, then 23, got out of the car and argued with Bast and three of her friends. They then got back inside the vehicle and sped away striking Bast and another teen who suffered minor bruises.
Bast slipped into a coma and died a few days later.
DeSantis was convicted of second degree manslaughter, reckless endangerment and leaving the scene of the deadly accident in 1985, a spokesman for the Nassau County District Attorney's office said. He was sentenced to three to nine years in prison at the time. It wasn't immediately clear when DeSantis got out of jail.
On Monday, Desantis, who said he was driving to Wantagh to take care of his elderly dad, was charged with felony DWI for allegedly being under the influence of drugs when he was involved in an accident on the Southern State Parkway near Route 107 in North Massapequa.
The driver of the other vehicle suffered minor injuries.
Desantis, whose next court appearance will be on Dec. 16, denied a state police account that he rear-ended the other vehicle in the accident, saying that he was the one who was rear-ended.
He also insisted, "I have a prescription for any drugs I was taking."
The convicted felon says he is "heartbroken" for Bast's family, but has been in trouble with the law since his manslaughter conviction.
Desantis also has a 2000 DWI conviction in Nassau County and other arrests, according to the DA spokesman. DeSantis maintains he no longer drinks.