Cops Tell Wrong Parents That Son Died in Car Crash

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Police are asking for the public's assistance in identifying the individuals wanted for questioning in the five assaults.

    It was a 90-minute nightmare.

    Alfred and Geri Esposito of Mastic Beach were told Saturday morning that their son Freddy and another passenger had been killed in a collision with a tractor-trailer on a Pennsylvania highway.

    "He [a Suffolk County police officer] gave me the name of the hospital and said the coroner would be in touch with me," Alfred Esposito told NBCNewYork. "And said that I would need to come to Pennsylvania to identify the body."

    It turns out Freddy wasn't dead. He was asleep on a couch in an apartment he rents with his brother. The dead man was one of his former fraternity brothers — a revelation that both relieved and upset the Espositos.

    "Ninety minutes of my life I'll never get back," Geri Esposito told Newsday on Thursday.

    "I ended up on the floor," she told NBCNewYork. "I couldn't believe it. I was stunned and devastated."

    The mix-up began when Pennsylvania troopers found Freddy Esposito's driver's license in the hands of one of the men killed in the wreck — 18-year-old Paul Richards of Santa Cruz, Calif.

    Geri Esposito said her son and Richards may have shared a fraternity house as students at Stony Brook University. She suspects Freddy, 26, may have lost his ID and never realized it. Freddy Esposito was not available to comment; his mother said he is still upset at the deaths of his friends.

    After police left the Esposito home, calls were made to relatives, and someone was sent to tell Freddy's grandmother.

    "It didn't make sense to me, but I was numb," Geri Esposito said of the report that her son had been driving. "Freddy doesn't drive anywhere. He had a car accident once. It was bad. He drives like a little old lady now. You know, he makes sure he follows the letter of the law. It didn't make sense that he was driving, but that's what they said."

    Older brother Chris Esposito was just starting his shift in Brooklyn as a New York Police Department officer when he got the call that his brother was dead.

    "I pretty much just fell to the ground," said Chris told NBCNewYork. "I couldn't breathe."

    He left work and raced to the Bay Shore home he shared with his brother.

    "He goes downstairs into his brother's apartment and he saw something on the couch," Geri Esposito recalled. After poking the lump a couple of times, his brother awoke from under the blanket.

    Shocked, Chris told his brother, "You're dead!"

    "And he's like, 'I'm not dead,'" said Chris. "And I'm like, 'Am I hallucinating?' and then I started screaming and people came down."

    The relieved mother said when she finally got to see her son, "I touched him all over and looked at his face," she said. "I said, Thank you for being responsible for being home.'"

    The driver of the car that was in an accident was Freddy's friend, 21 year old Sean Finnegan, who police say had Freddy's ID.

    Pennsylvania State Police released a statement saying.."The Pennsylvania State Police extend their sincerest condolences to all families, and continue to thoroughly investigate the cause of the crash, and why Finnegan was in possession of Esposito's identification."