Three Lido Beach summer camp workers were killed and two others injured in a single-car crash on the southbound side of the Meadowbrook Parkway, just south of the Southern State Parkway, at 8:47 Thursday morning.
The operator of the 2010 Honda Civic, Justine Mulhall, 20, and rear seat passenger Kelly Murphy, 20, were the only survivors of the crash and were taken to Nassau County Medical Center.
The five counselors were heading to work at the Town of Hempstead's Camp Anchor in Lido Beach when the accident occurred on the Parkway in Roosevelt, police said. The gray Honda was traveling south in the left lane, and, as it veered to the right lane, police said it left the road and struck a tree.
Front-seat passenger Michael Mulhall, 22, and rear-seat passengers Paige Malone, 19, and Jaime Malone, 22, were pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Justine Mulhall and Kelly Murphy were treated for minor injuries at Nassau University Medical Center.
The counselors worked with children with special needs.
All five are from Floral Park, and the accident has communities in both Floral Park and Lido Beach reeling from a devastating loss.
As of Thursday afternoon, police had not identified the victims because they were in the process of notifying the families. The cause of the accident is still under investigation, and the Meadowbrook was shut down for hours as police worked to determine the cause of the crash. Very early on, police said, it was clear that alcohol did not play a role.
“Alcohol involvement has been ruled out by State Police investigators," said Major Walter Heesch, Troop "L" Commander. "Our prayers go out to the families in this tragedy, and also to the community of Floral Park, where all three of these young people were from. These were three young adults doing something positive for the community."
A staff member who answered the phone at the camp on Thursday said she could not discuss the accident.
"We're in a state of unbearable grief," she said.
"Everyone is just devastated," said one parent from Merrick whose children attend the camp and asked not to be named. "All of these counselors work so hard and they're really committed."
Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray held a news conference on Thursday afternoon to express her and the town's condolences to the victims' families.
In a prepared statement, Murray said, "Members of the Town of Hempstead family are devastated by the tragic car accident that claimed the lives of three young, vibrant and caring counselors from Camp Anchor. Our hearts go out to the families of these young people. At the same time, we pray for the recovery of the two surviving counselors, and the families and friends of all the victims of this tragedy."
Murray continued, "The three counselors who were taken from us, along with the two young people who are now battling physical and emotional scars in the wake of the accident, were and continue to be the essence of Camp Anchor." Town officials said that Camp Anchor, a camp that serves hundreds of special-needs children, would remain open, as it provides a vital service to the community. Murray said the town has provided grief counselors, who are working alongside Nassau County Police Department counselors, to assist campers and workers.
The camp will be closed on Monday, July 19, and Tuesday, July 20, to allow staff and volunteers to attend the funerals.