Crime Watch

Freeporter pleads guilty to manslaughter in Oceanside man's death

Father of victim says his family will never have closure


Oceanside resident Vito Errico died last April at age 22 when he was thrown through the back window of a 2004 Acura on the Southern State Parkway, just west of the Malverne exit, and a light pole fell on him.

On March 27, the Freeport man who was driving the car pleaded guilty to manslaughter, admitting that he drove drunk and high at 90 miles per hour before clipping a car and crashing. He was unhurt. Two others in the car were seriously injured, according to Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas.

Jonathan Sobrane, 37, pleaded guilty before Acting Supreme Court Justice Helene Gugerty to aggravated vehicular homicide, two counts of second-degree assault and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. He will be sentenced May 8. Singas is recommending 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.

“Jonathan Sobrane’s impairment by alcohol and drugs — and reckless driving at speeds up to 90 miles per hour — made the crash that killed 22-year-old Vito Errico inevitable,” the district attorney said in a release. “I’m hopeful that the defendant’s guilty plea to the highest charge of aggravated vehicular homicide will give some small comfort to Mr. Errico’s family.”

Sobrane is represented by attorney David Haber. “By taking responsibility for what happened that day,” Haber said, Sobrane “was able to bring closure to everyone involved in this case. He offers his condolences to the Errico family and the other people who were injured.”

Errico’s father, Dino, of Oceanside, said in an interview with the Herald, however, that he would never have closure, nor would his wife and three daughters. “There is no closure,” he said. “That was my baby, that was my son, that was my life.”

Vito was Dino’s only son and a new partner in his construction business at the time of his death. “You know what it’s like to go to work and he’s not there?” Dino said, adding that he has been unable to work for the past eight months because he is distraught.

“I just got him going,” Dino said. “He started learning how to do everything — tiles, sheetrock.”

Vito met Sobrane through his father’s business. Dino said he gave Sobrane odd jobs. In between, he said, Sobrane worked for a towing company, living in a loft above the business. “I gave him a day here, a day there,” he said. A friend had introduced Sobrane to him.

“I took care of the guy,” Dino said, “and he took my son’s life. My son got killed for stupid reasons.”

He added that he had wanted the case to go to trial. “I told the D.A. I didn’t want no plea deals,” he said. "Nassau did not do the right job."

On April 17, 2016, at about 3:40 a.m., Sobrane was speeding eastbound on the Southern State Parkway in the Acura with three passengers inside, Singas said. The group was returning from New York City. Toxicology tests revealed Sobrane’s impairment by drugs. The defendant weaved across three lanes of traffic and cut in and out exit and entrance ramps to pass other vehicles. As he changed lanes, he clipped the back of a white 2006 Toyota Highlander traveling in the same direction. The collision caused Sobrane’s car to spin off the road, hit trees and upend a light pole.

Vito Errico died of his injuries. A 23-year-old woman in the passenger seat suffered a fractured femur and massive lacerations to her head that left her skull exposed. A 21-year-old man in the backseat sustained a broken arm and finger.

Sobrane was arrested at the scene by members of the New York State Police. Assistant District Attorney Stefanie Palma of the Vehicular Crimes Bureau is prosecuting the case.