It’s been confirmed that Justin Mendez, the driver who crashed into an Uber in the Hamptons this weekend, was speeding and trying to get away from the police. His mother, Aida Perez, is now speaking out about her 22-year-old son who was involved in an accident that killed five young men and injured one woman.
Aida Perez explained that her son would have been crushed if he knew what he did. “My son would not have been able to live with that,” Perez, 45, said.
According to investigators, Justin Mendez was attempting to outrun police on Saturday night when he crashed into the Toyota Prius. Inside the vehicle was its driver, Farhan Zahid, and four friends who were on their way to a dance club. Michael Farrell, James Farrell, and Ryan Kiess were killed in the Long Island crash. Kiess’ girlfriend, Brianna Maglio, is fighting for her life at Peconic Bay Medical Center.
Aida Perez says her son would not be able to live with the guilt. “I’m at peace with where he’s at because I know that if he would have stood,” Perez admitted.
“Either way, his fault or not, he would have played it over in his own mind that [he] took these people’s lives.” Perez added that Justin Mendez “would not be able to function” had he survived, claiming he would have been overwhelmed with guilt.
Justin Mendez was driving his Nissan Maxima at around 11:20 p.m. when he sped past a cop, according to Quogue police. Chris Isola, the chief of police in the town, said that Mendez had marijuana in his car. In his attempt to flee the law, he shut his headlights off and subsequently lost control of his vehicle.
The Nissan Maxima crossed over the yellow lines on Montauk Highway and smashed into the Toyota Prius. Police confirmed that the Prius was being used as an Uber at the time of the crash. An Uber spokesperson has since addressed the crash and its victims. “Our thoughts are with the families of Mr. Zahid and the four others who lost their lives in this heartbreaking crash, and we hope the survivor makes a full recovery.”
Justin Mendez’s mother told reporters that “for the families, I am very sorry, For that father that passed, leaving three small children, and all the family members that are suffering, I am very sorry for your loss.”
Aida Perez did say that Mendez was doing laundry with his girlfriend on Saturday night. She said that he was heading home before the fatal Long Island crash.
According to his mother, Justin Mendez had moved out of their home a year ago, though she didn’t reveal where he was currently staying. Perez said her son was “a peaceful person.” She also confirmed that for the last three years he was caring for the elderly and disabled.
“We called him our big teddy bear,” Perez told reporters. She said that Justin Mendez “treated everyone with respect. Better than I did, actually.”
A GoFundMe was set up to help support Aida Perez. Over $3,000 has been raised to cover funeral expenses and services to help the family.
Police continue to investigate the crash on Montauk Highway. Its sole survivor, Brianna Maglio, is currently in the ICU in critical condition. Her family and friends have gathered at the hospital and are asking for thoughts and prayers. No news involving her condition has been revealed since she was rushed to the hospital on Saturday.