Wilson Pantosin said no one else was in the car as he watched it burn, according to prosecutors.
The Long Island man, then 25, had lost control of his Dodge Neon on a rainy night in January 1999, the East Hampton Star reported. The car crossed into an oncoming lane of traffic, bounced off a utility pole, crashed into a tree and overturned before bursting into flames in East Hampton, New York, the newspaper said.
Pantosin was driving with a blood alcohol content of .20 percent — twice the legal limit of 0.10 (which has since been lowered to .08), said Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Maggie Bopp, Newsday reported.
Pantosin told police he’d had four beers, Bopp said,.
He also told authorities he had been driving alone, prosecutors said.
But rescuers later found the charred remains of Wilson Illaisaca, 25, in the vehicle, ABC 7 reported.
“This is not only a case where someone made the terrible decision to drink and get behind the wheel,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini, according to the news station. “But it’s also someone who literally lied about the presence of his friend in the car, lying to authorities while his friend burns to death.”
An autopsy later showed that Illaisaca was killed by the fire, not the crash, Newsday reported.
Pantosin was arrested after the crash, the East Hampton Star reported, but he never showed up to his court appearance after posting bail. He was indicted on charges of manslaughter and driving while intoxicated in March 2003, the newspaper said.
Texas police recently alerted Suffolk County authorities that Pantosin, 44, was living in the Houston area, News 12 reported. Pantosin was arrested Wednesday and brought back to Long Island, the news station said.
Pantosin has pleaded not guilty to the charges, Newsday reported.