A 15-year-old girl from the Village of Great Neck was killed in a drunken driving accident late Saturday night in Woodmere, according to the Nassau County Police Department.
Liel Namdar died after being in a car with four other people that was struck by 34-year-old Arlin Javier Aguilera, officials said. Just before 11 p.m. on Saturday, according to a news release, Aguilera was driving a blue 2014 Dodge pickup truck with two others northbound on Peninsula Boulevard when he hit the other car, a white 2018 Audi Q5, driven by a 38-year-old woman, Miriam Meltzer, who was turning onto Peninsula from Edward Avenue.
Everyone involved was transported to nearby hospitals, according to the news release. Officials said Namdar was declared dead by a staff physician just before midnight on Saturday. Meltzer remains in critical condition, while the three other teenagers are expected to survive after sustaining less severe injuries, according to officials.
Aguilera was charged with second-degree vehicular manslaughter, second-degree vehicular assault, and driving while intoxicated and was arraigned on Sunday at First District Court in Hempstead, according to officials.
Efforts to reach a Police Department representative for further comment were unavailing.
Namdar and three other friends were reportedly driving back from a reunion hosted by Camp Sternberg, an organization aimed at providing a summer camp experience for Jewish girls, according to a statement from camp owners Dov and Allyson Perkal.
“The Sternberg community is always a family and as such, while we usually laugh and sing together, unfortunately, we sometimes must cry together,” a joint statement from the owners on Sunday said. “Last night, we left after a beautiful reunion laughing and singing, and this morning we must cry and mourn as one of our beloved campers, Liel Namdar, was nifteres in this traffic accident on the way back home last night.”
The word “nifteres” is the Hebrew word for “deceased.”
The Queens-based Torah Academy for Girls, where Namdar was a 10th-grade student, according to school officials, also released a statement and said a trauma expert will be on site for anyone who desires to use her as a resource.
“It is with heartbreak and anguish that we must share with you that one of our 10th grade students, Liel Namdar, was tragically nifteres in a car accident last night,” school officials said. “We will have Mrs. Zahava Farbman MSW, who has 25 years of experience in the area of crisis intervention, trauma, and bereavement, with us to help all of us through this unimaginable tragedy.”
Namdar’s family held a funeral on Sunday night before flying with her body back to Israel for another service on Monday. A source said “a few hundred people” gathered at the American Airlines’ cargo terminal, with volunteer ambulance members providing some with oxygen so they would not pass out from grieving the loss. The source described the scene as “tragic.”
Namdar’s father, Efraim, reflected on his daughter’s memory during a eulogy on Mount of Olives in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
“I am thanking ‘HaShem’ [God] for giving me ‘zekhut’ [merit] of being Liel’s father,” Efraim Namdar said with tears in his eyes.
Village of Great Neck Mayor Pedram Bral, who knows the family, said the death came as a shock to the entire community.
“I can say that the past few days for me have not been the same,” Bral said in a phone interview. “Being a parent, it makes it extremely difficult to cope. It’s such a huge loss. My thoughts and prayers are with her parents, siblings and grandparents. I wish them patience and I hope that they can come to an understanding and make as much peace as possible with the situation.”