Brianna Maglio was the sole survivor of the Long Island car crash that killed five people on Montauk Highway on Saturday. Known as Bri, the 22-year-old was rushed to the hospital, and it wasn’t clear if she was going to survive. As of Thursday afternoon, Maglio is still in the ICU at Peconic Bay Medical Center where she is being treated for her injuries. The nature of those injuries has not been revealed to the public, though her family and friends suggest things may be looking up.
“The prayers are helping and working, so you may or may not believe in that, but that’s what we believe in,” according to Kurt Kiess. Mr. Kiess is Ryan Kiess father, who was a victim of the Long Island crash. He says he has been with the Maglio family at the hospital and supporting them in any capacity they need. Brianna Maglio and Ryan Kiess had been dating for six years before the tragic crash.
Kurt Kiess lost his son in the accident last Saturday, but he postponed the funeral until Maglio’s family can attend. “We have no plans until such time that we know that Brianna’s family can join us,” Kiess explained. “So right now, we’re sitting vigil at Bri’s bedside.” I know it’s not conventionally done this way, but this is what’s good for my family right now. Without Bri’s parents, there’s no closure for Ryan, so we can’t do it. … We’re concentrating on Bri.”
Kiess said Maglio’s condition has improved. “We’re devastated,” he admitted, “and we’ll never be the same, but we’re praying for Bri, and she’s a little better, and a little better. [She is] still in a coma, and that’s how it is.”
Maglio was going dancing with her friends Saturday night when the fatal accident occurred. Her boyfriend, Ryan Kiess, and the two brothers from Manhasset were killed in the Hamptons crash, as was their Uber driver, Farhan Zahid. Justin Mendez, 22, was the driver of the opposing vehicle, who authorities say was fleeing police when he smashed into Zahid’s Toyota Prius.
Kurt Kiess has been supporting the Maglio family during their time at the hospital. He told the reporters on Monday that “we are praying for Bri,” and confirmed that she is “like our third daughter. We love her and we need her to get better.”
At the time of his statement, Kurt Kiess explained that “people don’t know what they can do for us. Well, they can pray for Bri. She’s still in ICU and she hasn’t woken up. I kissed her this morning. I’ll kiss her this afternoon.”
Brianna Maglio and Ryan Kiess met at the University of Scranton while playing lacrosse for the school. Both the families had gotten very close and believed the two would get married. “Ryan and Bri dated the past six years and were the cutest couple you ever saw,” Kurt Kiess said. “Five-foot tall Bri and 6-foot-3 Ryan, they were just fun-loving people and would help anybody. Saturday night we were just having a party at our house. They helped clean up and left to go dancing and our lives were changed forever.”
Brianna Maglio worked for New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. She began working there as a nurse following her graduation from the University of Scranton. The 22-year-old grew up in Garden City, New York. Her hometown posted a statement in support of the young woman on Twitter.
“Say a prayer for Brianna Maglio of Garden City tonight,” the post read. “She’s in critical condition from that awful car accident in Quogue that killed 5 people.”
Below the post was a picture of Maglio. “[Brianna] Maglio is the best, fun-loving, sweetest, young, beautiful, respectful, loyal person with a lot of energy,” it said in the photo’s caption. “Always smiling. Her smile would light up a room.”
While the Long Island crash was still being investigated as of Wednesday morning, police released additional information regarding the cause on Tuesday. According to Quogue Police Chief Chris Isola, Justin Mendez was fleeing police when he lost control of his vehicle on Montauk Highway. Isola said there was no official police chase but that an officer had just put on his overhead lights when the tragic accident occurred.
Isola also confirmed that Justin Mendez had a “quantity of marijuana,” in his car, which might have been the reason he sped up – attempting to escape the law. “The officer spots Mendez 1,000 feet inside the village of Quogue, heading west,” Isola said in a news conference on Tuesday. “There’s a sharp turn. The officer had a very brief view of the vehicle. He very quickly loses sight and never catches up.”
The police chief continued saying the cop had only turned his overhead lights for “several seconds” before Mendez smashed into the Toyota Prius but claimed “there was no chase. The officer attempted to gain a view of the vehicle.”
Of the five dead in the fatal crash, two of them were brothers. Michael Farrell and James Farrell had joined their friends – Ryan Kiess and Brianna Maglio – for a party at Kiess’ parents’ house. After the party, the group wanted to go out dancing, so they called an Uber. Farhan Zahid picked the group up around 10:30 p.m.
“It was our first party,” Kurt Kiess said. “All of his friends were in the cottage, playing games and dancing,” he said. “They helped clean up and then they called an Uber to go dancing. He walked into the living room and got into the car— and that was the last time I saw my son. You see these things on the news and you say, ‘That’s somebody else’ — and then it becomes your family.”
Following the tragic crash on Montauk Highway on Saturday, the devasted families demand change to the roadway. “It’s a curvy road,” Mr. Kiess said. “It shouldn’t be that dangerous. The amount of traffic on Montauk Highway has increased over the years.” Ryan Kiess’ father said that officials “need to be more responsible.”