Jason Shein was 21, studying to become a doctor and hoping to practice one day in New York, close to his family in Levittown.

Shortly after midnight Sunday, driving home from a dinner with friends at Applebee's in Farmingdale, he was killed when a drunken driver's SUV slammed head-on into his car, Nassau police said.

The SUV driver, Persi Esquivel, 46, of Valley Stream, who is on probation from a previous drunken driving conviction, was arrested on manslaughter and 11 other charges.

Shein, a volunteer emergency medical technician and aspiring neurologist, was pronounced dead at the scene on Conklin Street in Farmingdale.

He was on Thanksgiving break from the University of Miami and had just had a farewell dinner with three friends -- all passengers in his 1998 Chrysler Sebring convertible -- when he was hit. He had planned to fly back to Florida Sunday.

"He asked me what I thought about him coming home for Thanksgiving," said his mother, Betsy Shein. "I said absolutely. I hadn't seen him in four months. He couldn't wait to have my turkey for Thanksgiving."

He also couldn't wait to see his sister's twin 1-year-old boys, Gavin and Andrew.

"And he couldn't wait to go hang out with his friends," Betsy Shein said. He was so proud of his rank of assistant vice president of administration at Canes Emergency Response Team in Miami, he brought a box of business cards to hand out to his buddies, she said.

Shein was the one his friends turned to when they needed to talk about a problem, his mother said. She called him a caring son and grandson, doting on his grandmother, who died last year at age 96.

"All she would say to anybody was, 'That's my grandson. He's going to be a doctor,'" Betsy Shein said. "He didn't want to let her down. He just went for it."

The other driver, Esquivel, was going east on Conklin when his 2000 Ford Explorer crossed the double yellow line to pass another vehicle and struck Shein, police said.

Shein's passengers, all 21-year-old men whose names were withheld, were taken to Nassau University Medical Center. One was admitted in serious condition, the others treated and released.

Police said Esquivel was treated at the same hospital but they gave no details on his injuries. He will be arraigned when his condition allows.

Among the charges he faces are second-degree manslaughter, first-degree vehicular manslaughter, second-degree assault, first-degree vehicular assault and felony driving while intoxicated.

In June 2006, Esquivel pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated, state records show. He was sentenced on Sept. 15, 2006, to 30 days in jail, a $500 fine and three years' probation.

Shein, a graduate of Division Avenue High School in Levittown, was a Yankees fan and loved spending time with friends and family.

He is also survived by his father, Albert, and two sisters, Deena Shein, 32, and Jami Anspach, 30, of Levittown.

The wake will be tomorrow at O'Shea Funeral Home on Wantagh Avenue in Wantagh from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.

"He was just very caring, very smart, very sensitive to others' emotions," Deena Shein said. "He was a very loyal friend."At Thanksgiving dinner in Levittown Thursday, Deena Shein's fiance invited Jason to be in their wedding party, Betsy Shein said.

Jason said: "I can't wait."