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Taunton driver faces charges after deaths

The 2001 Honda Accord, here Sunday in a Taunton tow lot, Nicholas Costa was driving when he crashed, killing two of his passengers and injuring four.

George Rizer for the Boston Globe

The 2001 Honda Accord, here Sunday in a Taunton tow lot, Nicholas Costa was driving when he crashed, killing two of his passengers and injuring four.

Nicholas Costa, 24, the driver of a car that crashed in Taunton early Sunday, killing two people and injuring four, was driving without a valid license and is facing vehicular homicide charges, Taunton police said Monday.

Authorities brought several charges against Costa, said Officer Joseph Balmain. He said the charges include two counts of motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation, operation of a motor vehicle after license suspension, and driving with an open container of alcohol.

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Costa’s driving record shows his license was suspended in June because of a warrant issued out of Taunton District Court. Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for the Bristol district attorney’s office, said he could not discuss the warrant because he cannot comment on details of a pending investigation.

Costa’s family could not be reached for comment Monday, and it is unclear whether he has hired a lawyer.

A resident of Taunton, Costa is recovering at the hospital, Balmain said, and he may face additional charges pending a police investigation. Miliote said Monday that he did not yet know when Costa will be arraigned.

Jason Neto and Eden Macedo, two 18-year-old Taunton residents, died Sunday, when the 2001 Honda Accord that Costa was driving hit a tree on Bay Street shortly after midnight. Costa and three other passengers — Ashley Rivera, 18, Jose Rodriguez, 21, and Chelsea Crancha, 18, all of Taunton — were injured in the crash.

A Taunton police lieutenant said Sunday that officers found a quart of raspberry-flavored vodka in the car, and the bottle was about two-thirds empty. Speed was a factor in the crash, he said, but officers have not determined whether alcohol was, too.

A dispatcher at Rhode Island Hospital said Monday that she did not have information on Costa’s condition. Rivera was listed in serious condition, and Rodriguez and Crancha were in fair condition, she said.

According to Registry of Motor Vehicles records, Costa was cited for speeding in West Bridgewater in March 2006. He was involved in a surchargeable accident in Brockton in October 2007, and he was cited again for speeding in February 2008 in Brockton.

A woman answering the phone at Neto’s home and identifying herself as his cousin, Susan, said relatives did not want to talk about the crash.

“We’re all in shock,” she said when asked about the charges brought against Costa. “Nobody deserved what happened, but it’s a little bit of irresponsibility there.”

John R. Ellement of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Melissa M. Werthmann contributed to this report. Zachary T. Sampson can be reached at
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