Man Charged With DWI In 'Mass Fatality' Nail Salon Crash: PD

DEER PARK, NY — A man was charged with driving while intoxicated after crashing into a nail salon Friday, killing four people and injuring nine, police said.

According to Suffolk County police, the incident took place at Hawaii Nail & Spa on Grand Boulevard in Deer Park. Steven Schwally, 64, of Dix Hills was driving a 2020 Chevy Traverse southbound at a high rate of speed through the parking lot in front of 421 Commack Road, then crossed over Grand Boulevard and continued through the parking lot of 794 Grand Boulevard, where he crashed the vehicle through the front window of the nail salon, police said.

The salon was open and conducting business at the time of the crash, police said.

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Three women and a man were pronounced dead at the scene by a physician assistant from the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner; nine additional people were transported to local hospitals, police said. Five were transported by ambulance to Good Samaritan University Hospital in West Islip, three were transported by ambulance to South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, and one was airlifted via Suffolk County Police helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital, police said.

Schwally was arrested and charged with DWI, police said. He was transported to Good Samaritan University Hospital in West Islip for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries and will be arraigned at a later date, police said.

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Mark Stone, public information officer with the Deer Park Fire Department, spoke with Patch. “It was a chaotic scene. The car just crashed through the nail salon. We deal with car accidents regularly. It’s not uncommon to have a car crash into a building; we’ve dealt with that before. But this one traveled through the building and finally came to a rest at the back of the shop,” he said.

The first units to arrive at the scene found a “mass casualty incident” and called for mutual aid to respond with appropriate resources, Stone said. “Our guys went to work, doing the job they do,” he said.

A total of nine departments and about 150 firefighters and EMS first responders were at the scene for hours, he said.

In order to help those first responders deal with the unthinkable, Stone said the critical incident stress management team was activated; that team came to the firehouse to speak with members post-incident and will also be available in the future for help and counseling.

“We deal with crashes regularly, but a mass fatality incident is not something we normally do,” Stone said. “Our fire and EMS personnel were the ultimate professionals. They carried out the mission and did their jobs in an exemplary fashion. Unfortunately, that’s what we train for, so that we can do our jobs and hopefully, save some lives. I believe we did that and because of the work everyone did, there weren’t more fatalities.”

Stone said the fire department responded back to the shop at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday as the car was being pulled from the salon, and at that time, they washed down the scene and retrieved equipment.

Across Long Island, shock waves rippled and residents mourned the lost and remembered the first responders.

“With all the tragedy that hit Deer Park today, please keep in your prayers the amazing and incredible 150 responders that were called upon to that horrific scene,” said Beth Goldberg-Taylor, president of the Deer Park Historical Association. “These men and women, heroes that swallowed their heartache of what they witnessed, to do their jobs. These heroes that will shed a tear in private over what they encountered today. Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers. And please say a huge thank you to them for a job that most of us never want to have. They really are heroes to everyone in the Deer Park community. God bless them all.”

Alisa McMorris, who lost her son Andrew, 12, when a drunk driver plowed into a Boy Scout troop out on a hike in Manorville, was heartbroken by the news, about the man charged with DWI after crashing into the nail salon: “Another mass casualty involving a drunk driver,” she said. “My heart aches.”

Suffolk County Legislator Tom Donnelly reflected on the crash in a social media post: “Thoughts and prayers to the innocent patrons and employees involved in the horrific accident at Hawaii Nails on Grand Boulevard. I have been on the scene since the initial call and it is a tragic situation. Thank you to my fellow Deer Park Volunteer Fire Department responders and Chief Dominic Albanese, as well as all the first responders from the neighboring fire and rescue departments and everyone from Suffolk County Fire Rescue and Emergency Services — heroes on the scene almost immediately and who I know will be there for many, many more hours.”

Added New York State Senator Dean Murray on social media: “Please keep in your prayers, all who were involved in the horrible accident in Deer Park this afternoon . . including all of our first responders who were first on the scene.”

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