The tennis world has been rocked by the deaths of two 14-year-old prodigies in New York.
Drew Hassenbein and Ethan Falkowitz were driving were killed while driving with two other boys aged 16 and 17, who were both in stable condition in hospital.
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The teenagers’ Alfa Romeo was struck by an alleged drunk driver — 34-year-old Amandeep Singh —who was driving the wrong way down the Long Island expressway.
Singh allegedly also tried to flee the scene.
“The male subject tried to leave the scene on foot,” captain Stephen Fitzpatrick of the Nassau County Police Department said via the Long Island Press.
He added: “It was probably one of the most catastrophic scenes I have seen in a long time. If you had been there, you would have seen the debris field, it was almost like the car exploded.”
Singh has been charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, two counts of manslaughter second degree, vehicular manslaughter, two counts of second degree assault, leaving the scene of a death and driving while intoxicated and will be held without bail until facing court on May 8.
The criminal complaint revealed that Singh had admitted to “consuming alcoholic beverages”, blowing 0.18 on a breath test.
New York outlet PIX 11 reported: “Singh was so drunk, he told officers he thought he was in New Jersey.”
Reports said the Alfa Romeo struck a tree after the collision and Hassenbein and Falkowitz were pronounced dead at the scene.
The police confirmed the teenagers were on their way home from a restaurant after a competition.
“The kids were on a tennis team for their school. They were at a local tennis event and then went to get food at the mall,” Fitzpatrick said.
“They were on their way home from a restaurant.”
The mother of one of the students of Roslyn Middle School said: “The whole community is devastated. These lives touched everybody.”
NBC New York reported the coach of both boys said Hassenbein and Falkowitz were “amazing guys” and “best friends” who started playing tennis when they were just five years old and were both already on the varsity tennis team.
But while the local community was devastated about the loss of two of its brightest young starts, the tennis world was equally crushed over the talented pair’s heartbreaking loss.
They were both on the school’s tennis team and Hassenbein was even a nationally ranked tennis player, ranked 38th in the US for 14 & Under players.
Hassenbein also tossed the coin ahead of the 2021 US Open Final won by Daniil Medvedev over Novak Djokovic.
Reporter for New York’s WABC-TV Eyewitness News commented: “My heart breaks for the entire Roslyn community tonight. Please don’t drink and drive. It was tennis stars Drew Hassenbein and Ethan Falkowitz who were killed in Jericho last night, but this could have been any of our kids.”
The Roslyn Bulldogs Tennis Instagram account said: “Drew and Ethan were the best of us. They had the biggest hearts and the most contagious smiles. They were outstanding tennis players with the brightest futures. We will forever miss their laughter and company. They were our family.
“We love you guys so much. We would do anything for one more second with you both. Life is unfair and takes away the best people.
“Fly high boys.”
She also shared a photo of the enormous community turn out for the arraignment of Singh with people filling the halls of the courthouse.
Racquet Magazine senior editor Ben Rothenberg tweeted: “Horrible news from Long Island: one of the boys killed was Drew Hassenbein, a highly-ranked young player who was chosen to perform the coin toss between Djokovic and Medvedev before the 2021 US Open men’s final.”
USTA Eastern posted: “USTA Eastern is heartbroken over the tragic loss of Drew Hassenbein (pictured doing a coin toss at the 2021 US Open) & Ethan Falkowitz, two members of the Roslyn High School tennis team on Long Island.
“We extend our thoughts & prayers to their families, teammates and loved ones.”
Long Island Tennis Magazine added: “The Long Island tennis community has suffered a tremendous loss.
“We mourn the tragic passing of Drew Hassenbein and Ethan Falkowitz, and extend our thoughts and prayers to the Hassenbein’s, Falkowitz’s, the Roslyn tennis team and everyone affected by this horrific tragedy.”