A Mineola woman was one of two people killed on a motorcycle in a hit-and-run accident in upstate Orange County early Sunday morning, state police officials said.
Melissa Rupa, 25, of Mineola and Rafaelito DeJesus, 23, of Valley Stream, were traveling north on the New York State Thruway near exit 16, when they were struck from behind by a vehicle driven by Luis Munoz, 24, of Ossining, N.Y. at 1:10 a.m. on June 2, police said.
Police said Munoz fled the scene.
“We’re reconstructing the accident,” said Lt. Richard Mazzone of Troop F in Middletown. “Preliminarily, it appears that they were struck from the rear.”
Rupa and DeJesus were apparently thrown from the motorcycle after being struck by Munoz’s vehicle. Police said they were both declared dead at the scene.
State police and police from Woodbury, arrested Munoz approximately six hours after the accident occurred at 7:15 a.m. after observing him driving erratically on Route 32 near Woodbury. Police reportedly found a license plate and bumper from Munoz’s car at the crime scene.
“Part of his vehicle remained at the crime scene,” Mazzone said.
Mazzone said Munoz was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide and driving while intoxicated and said “additional charges are pending.”
Munoz was arraigned in the Town of Woodbury Court and remanded to Orange County Jail in lieu of $250,000 cash bail or $1 million secured bond.
Rupa and DeJesus were reportedly traveling to visit Rupa’s family in the Hudson Valley.
According to information on a memorial fund Web site set up to collect donations for funeral expenses, Rupa was living with her brother, helping to raise her two young nephews.
“She loved her family and friends very much, she enjoyed art, and living life to the fullest,” a description of her on the Web site said. “Melissa had an amazing heart and a giving spirit and her passing is not only a great loss to her family, friends and loved ones, but to the entire world as well — as Melissa truly made the world a better place simply by being in it.”
The Web site said it was organized by Anthony Arico and family. Donations were being accepted on the site at www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/the-melissa-rupa-memorial-fund/63792.
According to the memorial fund Web site, Rupa is survived by her mother, Cathy, her stepfather, Eddie; her brother Thomas and sister Renee; grandmother, Joan; three uncles, Anthony, Billy and Charles; an aunt, Alice and five nieces and nephews.
Information about funeral arrangements was not available at press time.
The accident investigation is continuing and state police ask anyone with information about the accident to call 845-782-8311.