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Wantagh Man Involved in Southern State Crash Has Manslaughter Conviction

Joseph DeSantis' arrest came on 29th anniversary of 1984 incident that left 17-year-old dead.

Joseph DeSantis Photo: NY State police
Joseph DeSantis Photo: NY State police
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.

"i've been sober for five years," he said.

Lorraine DeVita November 20, 2013 at 03:05 PM
He's been sober for 5 yrs.. congrats! BUT has he been taking "prescribed" drugs and IF prescribed he would have been informed DO NOT DRIVE ..or at the very least WARNED of the consequences and side effects of driving under the influence.. Ironically he feels horrible for killing someone yet does nothing to prevent himself from possibly doing it again.. poor judgment or no judgment? Either way drugs and driving don't mix same as drinking and driving don mix. how many more families have to suffer because some IDIOT has poor judgment. LOCK him up and every other drugged or drunk idiot who gets behind the wheel of a car. As well FINE them an astronomical monetary fee for being STUPIDLY DANGEROUS.
Chris Wendt November 21, 2013 at 07:23 AM
29 Years ago, tomorrow, this man ran over Wantagh High School senior, Sheila Bast...TWICE! He then fled the scene. She later died in the hospital. He got a conscience and surrendered. His lawyer and the ADA then agreed to call her death "an accident" and to reduce his bail from $100,000 to $10,000, but the judge would not approve lowering his bail. This is NOT a matter of "poor judgment" or any other kind of judgment. This man is a proven danger to society and should have been off the streets, and now, more than ever, needs to be taken off the streets. A fatal hit-and-run, a DWI and other arrests...now driving under the influence and in another "accident". What does it take for the "JUSTICE SYSTEM" to actually WORK in Nassau County? ..................................................................................................... Google "Sheila Bast Wantagh", see NY Times article, and the Google News Article (The News & Courier).
Tammy Ferraro-Lucy November 21, 2013 at 07:28 AM
he should be shot in the head as many times as he ran her over intentionally. News reports should not sugar coat a story like this. He should still be in jail(I prefer DEAD). That 1984 incident was no accident and he tried to run them all over at multiple times, even in reverse at one point, until he ran this poor girl over. but thanks to the justice system he gets to keep putting families through hell. To this reporter...thanks for making my husband anger and cry more then what he was already.
EJ48 November 21, 2013 at 10:35 AM
Bravo Chris for highlighting This person is a MENACE to society and needs to be put away where he can do no more harm. DA Rice should be recalled if she cannot manage it
JJProse November 24, 2013 at 02:53 PM
He is also a pathological liar with no real conscience (just enough pseudo-conscience to manipulate a ridiculously light sentence). He murdered that girl and attempted to murder the others. I'll never forget that story. Always wondered what happened to that a-hole. And now I know. Just because he hasn't been caught the past 5 years doesn't mean he hasn't committed any crimes. Seems Kathleen Rice is too busy self-promoting and running press conferences to ruin the lives of Johns, rather than do the work necessary to put vermin like this behind bars. Hey, Kathleen, I for one will remember how you wasted our precious tax dollars having law enforcement chasing escorts rather than doing the work required to avoid plea bargaining with the likes of this filth.
Lucy January 20, 2014 at 04:06 PM
This man is a habitual liar!! He's had two prior DUI convictions in the past decade. He shows total disregard for the law, as he continues to drive around the island without a license. His remaining family has a restraining order out on him, so it's doubtful he was "visiting" his elderly father. He's a stalker and apparently put his ex-wife into the hospital, after beating her. He was a resident of Suffolk County and they seem to be more lenient. Hopefully, Nassau County Courts will throw the book at this jerk!!! He's garbage and will NEVER change!!!

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