Dustin Drake faces four counts each of second-degree murder and aggravated vehicular homicide

BATH - Dustin W. Drake, the driver in a one-car accident that took the lives of four passengers on County Route 76 near Rugby Road, has been charged with multiple murder and aggravated vehicular homicide charges in the Oct. 12 crash.

Drake, 30, of Prattsburgh, was indicted by a Steuben County Grand Jury on four counts each of second-degree murder and aggravated vehicular homicide, according to Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker. He is also charged with driving while intoxicated. Authorities say he had a blood-alcohol content of .21 percent at the time of the incident.

The crash occurred at about 1:15 a.m. Oct. 12 when Drake allegedly drove the vehicle into a tree off the side of County Route 76 in the Town of Pulteney, killing passengers Korbie L. Higgins, 28, of Bath, Coy F. Miner, 26, of Hammondsport, Nicole L. Wise, 25, of Prattsburgh, and Adam P. Bellamy, 29, of Pulteney and Ohio.

Drake was initially charged two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and felony driving while intoxicated. The DWI was raised to a felony because Drake had a previous conviction within the past 10 years.

He suffered only minor injuries in the crash.

"The next step is Drake will be arraigned in Steuben County Court," Baker said. "The case has been assigned to Steuben County Court Judge Chauncey Watches, who will set an arraignment date sometime in January of next year. When the trial case will begin at this point is hard to determine."

Drake is currently released on his own recognizance as he posts no flight risk, officials said. He is being defended in the case by Ithaca attorney Ray Schlather.

"Frequently when we take a DWI arrest to trial we hear from the defense that it is a victimless crime," Steuben County Sheriff Jim Allard said at a press conference soon after the fatal crash. "We know that it is not. We know that in some DWI cases, holes are left in families, friends lose friends and we experience some of the most significant loses of the community that we will ever experience."

"This was one of the most horrific sites I have seen or dealt with in this county," Baker said in October. "Four young, promising lives were lost from a very tight-knit community. The echoes from their loss will go on for decades. Our heart goes out to the families."

Baker said the best thing his office can do for the familes is to prosecute the defendant -- but that doesn’t undo the harm.

"I don’t know if anything we ever could do would make the victims feel better," Baker said. "I don’t pretend to put myself in their shoes. What I can tell them is we will do our best to get justice for their loved ones and to find out for them exactly what happened and make sure that under the law the appropriate sanctions are proposed against the defendant. That’s all the system can do, unfortunately. That’s one of the tragic and sad things about cases like this, there is no way to make anybody whole again."