Two men from opposite ends of Queens lost their lives Friday morning in a car crash on a rain-slicked stretch of parkway near the borough's center.
Police said Gregg-Sean Peano, 22, of Astoria, lost control of his Dodge Durango while heading east on the Grand Central Parkway near the Long Island Expressway interchange about 7:40 a.m. His SUV jumped the divider and slammed into a Ford van driven by Samuel Bakhash, a 53-year-old Oakland Gardens resident, according to police.
Peano was pronounced dead at the scene and Bakhash died a short time later at New York Hospital Queens in Flushing, authorities said.
The accident shut down the parkway in both directions for an hour during the busy morning rush hour, the city's Department of Transportation said. Police were still investigating the cause of the accident Tuesday.
At the Peano family apartment in Astoria, crammed with relatives, friends and plates of food donated by neighbors, the young man was remembered as gregarious, fun-loving and ambitious.
"He was the life of the party," said Peano's sister, Ann-Marie, 35. "He made everyone feel beautiful. He had that gift."
She said her brother, 13 years her junior, was the baby of the family and when he was growing up, he was "like a son " to her and her sister Michelle, 34.
Peano was born and raised in Astoria, where he attended local schools, his father, 62-year-old August Peano said. He left Manhattan's Hunter College after completing two years for a position as a mortgage broker on Long Island but was considering resuming his studies. August Peano, a police officer for 32 years and now retired, said his son had scored well on the Police Department entry examination but had wanted to choose another field where he could earn more money.
"He had a lot of plans and a lot of dreams," said his father. "He wanted to make it big."
He said his son was on his way to visit his girlfriend in Brooklyn when the crash occurred. The pair were scheduled to travel to Italy on vacation Wednesday. Peano, who took art classes at Hunter, told his father he was looking forward to seeing the Sistine Chapel first-hand.
August Peano described his son as a "10-dimensional person," noting that he had accrued 43 merit badges - 17 more than are required - on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout.
Family members also expressed sorrow for the other man killed in the accident.
"We prayed for the other man, and we're still praying for the other man," said August Peano. "It's a terrible tragedy that this happened."
While hundreds of friends and neighbors gathered at the Angerame Funeral Home on 23rd Avenue in Astoria to pay their respects to Peano, neighbors in the apartment complex where Bakhash lived said the man lived alone, worked long hours and kept to himself.
"I just saw him the night before," said Michelle Mediate, Bakhash's downstairs neighbor. "It's terrible."
She added that he was "very pleasant, very friendly."
Peano was buried Tuesday at St. Michael's Cemetery in Astoria. No further information on arrangements for Bakhash was available.
Ayala Ben-Yehuda contributed to this article.
Reach reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.
©2003 Community News Group
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