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Family to Sue Nassau Over Daughter’s Death

Isabella Grasso

Parents Michael Grasso, Linda Grasso, son John Grasso and lawyer Thomas F. Liotti

The parents of Isabella Grasso—a 17-year-old aspiring actress from Locust Valley who died in a car crash in January—announced Tuesday they plan to sue Nassau County, alleging that first responders failed to save her life.

Grasso’s parents, Linda and Michael, stood before their daughter’s gravesite as they counted the unanswered questions they have about Isabella’s car crash and the events that followed it.


“We have millions of questions and zero in the way of answers at this moment. We want answers,” Michael Grasso said. “I just want the answers to what happened.”

The Grassos said they want to know how the crash occurred and why their daughter was taken to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, when there are hospitals closer to the scene of the accident on Old Tappan Road in Lattingtown.

Isabella was driving her Mercedes Benz to Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead on Jan. 10 when she turned onto Old Tappan Road, about a half mile from her house, and was involved in a head-collision with a Ford Explorer around 7:20 a.m., Michael said.

Police arrived on scene at 7:29, and Locust Valley EMT’s responded two minutes later. Shortly after, a helicopter was called to take Isabella to NUMC.

Isabella Grasso's gravesite

The helicopter arrived at Glen Cove High School—where the family said police moved her—50 minutes later. It took 45 minutes from that point to get her into surgery, he said. Isabella, who was awake and talking at the scene of the accident, later died.

“We found that very disturbing,” her father said of the time he said passed as his daughter waited for a helicopter, “because time is of the essence in a situation like this.”

“Why?” his wife asked of the helicopter ride to NUMC instead of driving her to a local hospital. “Why would they take her from where the accident occurred to the side of Glen Cove high school when there was a hospital down the road. And wait for a helicopter.”

The family said promises made to them for more information by county officials haven’t been kept.

Linda Grasso said County Executive Ed Mangano told them in May he’ll get them some answers.

Nassau County officials declined to comment through a spokeswoman, citing pending litigation.

“It’s an outrage,” Linda said. “We want to know why this happened.”

Isabella Grasso

The family said police told them that Isabella was “drifting” onto the eastbound lane before the crash. She had to make an abrupt turn to avoid the oncoming SUV, said their lawyer, Thomas Liotti, who recently filed a notice of claim against the county.

“She was avoiding something,” added Michael.

Yellow dots chronicling the accident are still visible on Old Tappan Road where Isabella died. A man who lives across the street from the accident said his son called 911, and he notified the fire department after his son called him in a panic.

The Grasso’s have three other children—John, 10, who joined his parents at the gravesite, a daughter, 13 and another son, 25. They said two Freedom of Information requests for more information about the crash have been denied.

The family said thousands of people came to their daughter’s wake, many of them friends from Sacred Heart Academy and her dance school.

Isabella Grasso's car accident (Courtesy: Office of Thomas Liotti.)

They described her as a beautiful girl who loved acting, and was in one episode of the hit TV show “Law & Order” and was scheduled to appear in a dozen more. Michael said his daughter wanted to study finance in college and there was more to her than just acting and modeling.

“She had a life ahead of her,” Linda said. She was “head over heels in love with her boyfriend.”

A YouTube video posted 20 days after her death shows Isabella smiling with family and friends while Akon’s song “Angel” plays in the background.

“We just don’t understand why no one helped her,” Linda said.

Added Michael, “this is a life sentence for all of us.”

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