Tag Archives: crash

Vigil for dead teens meant to raise awareness


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Their message was responsibility and awareness.

Less than two weeks after four area teens perished in a tragic car crash on the Southern State Parkway, hundreds turned out to a candle light vigil at Phil Rizzuto Park in Richmond Hill.

Family members, friends and neighborhood residents gathered to remember Christopher Khan, Neal Rajapa, Darian Ramnarine and Peter Kanhai. Many wore shirts or sweatshirts with their pictures in order to keep their memory alive. The driver, Joseph Beer, survived the crash.

Relatives of each of the young men lit a single candle sitting on a chair representing empty places in four homes because of the accident. Following the lighting, religious leaders prayed for the community and the victims.

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

The idea of the night was to ensure there was better communication between parents and children, said Dr. Dhanpaul Narine, one of the vigil’s five organizers. If there was a better dialogue in the community, Narine said, tragedies like this could be prevented. He said this expanded beyond the home, into schools and at places of worship.

“We should communicate; communication is an important aspect of any relationship,” he said. “It takes a whole village; the whole village is right here. The entire village is not operating as it should be, and that is what we hope to achieve here this evening.”

If this idea of responsibility when driving, and keeping in touch with parents, could reach one teen, then it could spread from there, Narine and others hope.

The idea of responsibility resonated with some of the parents who joined the crowds in the park.

John Maharana’s son had been friends with the deceased and he was there to show support for the community and his son. His son, Maharana said, was still trying to grasp the untimely deaths.

What he hoped the youth of the community got from the night was a new perspective on responsibility and care.

“As a parent, I would imagine what those parents are going through right now, having to lose their young kids,” he said. “I would hate to be in their [shoes] right now. But I just hope these other kids look at this and learn. Let them take this as a good lesson now: these kids have died in vain for them to use as a good example to make themselves better, be more responsible. Mommy and dad are not going to be with you 24/7 told hold your hand to guide you.”

Relatives, friends gather at funeral for teen killed in LI crash


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

Those who knew Christopher Khan all seemed to say the same thing: he always had a smile on his face, no matter the day or the time.

Funeral services for Khan were held on Wednesday, October 10 in South Ozone Park.

Hundreds of relatives, friends and neighbors packed the funeral home to say goodbye to the young man, killed, along with four others in a tragic wreck on the Southern State Parkway.

“He wasn’t like my brother, he was my brother,” said Avinash Ramkumar, 17, as he fought off tears. Ramkumar, who knew Khan since their sophomore year of high school, said his friend had big dreams for himself and wanted others to succeed even more.

“He wanted to be successful…he wanted us to be happy,” Ramkumar said.

Reports say that the four Queens teenagers killed after the car they were riding in spun off the Southern State Parkway and split in two were not wearing seat belts at the time of the accident. The driver — the only one to survive — had been buckled up, according to reports.

Khan, 18, Neal Rajapa, 17, Darian Ramnarine, 18, and Peter Anthony, 18, were killed in the wreckage, but driver Joseph Beer, 17, was able to make it out of the early morning crash that happened on Monday, October 8.

The victims were mainly from South Ozone Park and Jamaica, according to state troopers.

Beer was taken to Winthrop-University Hospital in nearby Mineola, a hospital spokesperson confirmed. He was discharged the following day around 6 p.m., the spokesperson said. Beer was alleged in news reports to have been high on marijuana during the accident, but authorities could not confirm this at press time. The Winthrop spokesperson said the hospital cannot release the results of Beer’s blood tests.

The 2012 Subaru Impreza split in two, police said, with the contents of the car spilling along the side of the road. The car had been heading west on the Southern State near exit 17, at a notoriously dangerous curve, around 3:40 a.m. when it veered off the road.

Beer was driving with a learner’s permit, according to reports. Under state law, someone with just a permit can drive at certain hours with someone who is 21 or older and holds a valid license.

Services were held for Ramnarine on the evening of October 10 at the same funeral home. Virenda Ramkissoon, who said he was closest with Ramnarine, attended both funerals. He and Ramnarine had graduated together and had moved on to attend City Tech together, he said.

“I’m never going to get another hello from him,” he said. “It’s heart breaking to tell the college what happened to him.”

Ramkissoon said he was taking it upon himself to step in and be there for Ramnarine’s younger brother and sister — as he regarded Ramnarine as his own kin.

“They’re my responsibility basically now,” Ramkissoon said.

Most of the students graduated from Richmond Hill High School last year, and on the morning of Tuesday, October 9, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott visited the school to address students. A Department of Education spokesperson said grief counselors will be provided to students and staff in order to cope.

Zahid Hassan, a junior at Richmond Hill, said his brother had been with a few of the departed just a few days before.

“They were good kids,” Hassan, 16, said. “I didn’t see them do anything bad.”

Several students still at the high school said they knew Khan well, and all seemed to agree he was a good-spirited person.

“I just hope he’s in a better place,” said Jonathan Espinosa, who said he had a class with Khan last year.

Espinosa said his classmate had been a fun-loving student who was kind to others. It was shocking to hear that Khan had died, Espinosa said, as he is trying to deal with the tragedy.

“It’s hard, but it happens though,” he said. “But that shouldn’t have ever happened.”

Kayla Valentine, a basketball player at the school, said Khan would come in and help coaches during practices. Valentine said Khan was one of the students to graduate last year, but was not sure if he was going to college anywhere.

The 17-year-old senior added that Khan had been a smart student who was always willing and able to help her with school problems.

“He was really nice,” she said. “If I ever had a problem he would talk to me.”

Valentine said she lost a friend less than a year ago to an accident on the Southern State, near the same spot where Khan and his friends perished.

“It’s just weird to me how everything happens that way.”

Richmond Hill mourns teens lost in LI car crash


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Four Queens teenagers were killed and another hospitalized after the car they were riding in spun off the Southern State Parkway and split in two.

Christopher Khan, 18, Neal Rajapa, 17, Darian Ramnarine, 18, and Peter Anthony, 18, were killed in the wreckage, but driver Joseph Beer, 17, was able to make it out of the early morning crash that happened on Monday, October 8.

The victims were mainly from South Ozone Park and Jamaica, according to state troopers.

Beer was taken to Winthrop-University Hospital in nearby Mineola, a hospital spokesperson confirmed. She could not, however, release Beer’s condition as the family has requested privacy.

The 2012 Subaru Impreza split in two, police said, with the contents of the car spilling along the side of the road. The car had been heading west on the Southern State near exit 17, at a notoriously dangerous curve, around 3:40 a.m. when it veered off the road.

Beer was driving with a learner’s permit, according to reports. Under state law, someone with just a permit can drive at certain hours with someone who is 21 or older and holds a valid license.

Most of the students graduated from Richmond Hill High School last year, and on the morning of Tuesday, October 9, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott visited the school to address students. A Department of Education spokesperson said grief counselors will be provided to students and staff in order to cope.

Zahid Hassan, a junior at Richmond Hill, said his brother had been with a few of the departed just a few days before.

“They were good kids,” Hassan, 16, said. “I didn’t see them do anything bad.”

Several students still at the high school said they knew Khan well, and all seemed to agree he was a good-spirited person.

“I just hope he’s in a better place,” said Jonathan Espinosa, who said he had a class with Khan last year.

Espinosa said his classmate had been a fun-loving student who was kind to others. It was shocking to hear that Khan had died, Espinosa said, as he is trying to deal with the tragedy.

“It’s hard, but it happens though,” he said. “But that shouldn’t have ever happened.”

Kayla Valentine, a basketball player at the school, said Khan would come in and help coaches during practices. Valentine said Khan was one of the students to graduate last year, but was not sure if he was going to college anywhere.

The 17-year-old senior added that Khan had been a smart student who was always willing and able to help her with school problems.

“He was really nice,” she said. “If I ever had a problem he would talk to me.”

Valentine said she lost a friend less than a year ago to an accident on the Southern State, near the same spot where Khan and his friends perished.

“It’s just weird to me how everything happens that way.”

Mayor, NYPD helping victims of tragic Van Wyck Expressway crash


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo by Roy Renna / BMR Breaking News

One of the three survivors of a recent fiery car crash near the Van Wyck Expressway, which killed five people including two kids, has been treated and released from Jamaica Hospital, officials said.

Kingsley Maduka returned to his family in the Bronx, while Oby Okoro, the driver in the crash, is in the intensive care unit and her seven-year-old son Cjidechukwu Obioha is in stable condition.

A spokesperson for the hospital told the media that “the family is not speaking at this time.”

According to police, the group of eight was traveling eastbound on Atlantic Avenue in a 2008 black Mercedes Benz SUV near the intersection of the Van Wyck at about 3 a.m. on July 22, when the vehicle struck a concrete barrier. The collision caused the car to flip and roll over, subsequently coming to a rest on its passenger side and igniting in flames.

Firefighters and EMS personnel responded, and, once the fire was extinguished, five victims were pronounced dead at the scene: Munachimso Obioha, 8, Ebube Obafor-Mba, 9, and three adult females.

Okoro, Obioha and Maduka were taken to the hospital.

The group was coming back from a function celebrating Nigerian heritage, according to published reports.

There is no criminal activity suspected at this time and the investigation is ongoing, cops said, though it has been reported that Okoro was traveling at a high rate of speed and had blown two red lights. “The mayor’s office and NYPD community affairs unit are helping the family out in any way that we can,” said officer Mark Costa of the 103rd Precinct.

Basdeo Narine, a resident who lives about a mile from the accident and passed by as he was driving his wife to work, said the Mercedes was completely smashed and he saw the five bodies, covered in sheets, laid out near the vehicle.

“It was mind crushing,” he said of the gruesome scene.

Narine said that though he doesn’t consider the intersection dangerous, people do take the turn at the Van Wyck and Atlantic and Archer Avenues at a high rate of speed. “I live here, so I know,” he said. “People can get up to 60 mph from light to light. But if you have kids in the car you are supposed to be cautious.”

In order to avoid such tragedies in the future, Narine said, the area needs a traffic light and a speed bump.

He said he’s not averse to contacting area politicians regarding the matter.

Yvonne Reddick, district manager of Community Board 12, agreed that the intersection is usually safe.

“That’s the first time that I’ve heard of an accident at that location,” Reddick said. “She just lost control. That was a tragedy. My heart goes out to the family.”

 

Headlines from around the web


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Penn State tears down Paterno statue

On the same day construction workers with jackhammers dismantled the iconic statue of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno that had stood outside Beaver Stadium for 11 years, the NCAA said it will announce sanctions against the university Monday morning during a press conference. NYDailyNews 

“Dark Knight Rises” stars express sorrow after shooting

“Dark Knight” actress Anne Hathaway, says she’s grieving for the victims and families affected by Friday’s tragic mass shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater. “My heart aches and breaks for the lives taken and altered by this unfathomably senseless act,” Hathaway said in a statement issued Sunday. NYDailyNews 

Five killed, three injured in Queens accident

Five people were killed, including two children, when a speeding SUV blew through two red lights, slammed into a concrete pillar and rolled over several times in Queens early Sunday, police and witnesses said. The black Mercedes Benz SUV came to rest against a fence and then burst into flames around 3:15 a.m. Emergency workers said the horrific wreck was one of the worst in recent memory. NYDailyNews 

Queens man dead after ATV crash

A Queens man is dead after police say he crashed his ATV into a metal pole Saturday night. Investigators said 33-year-old Dave Thomas was riding his ATV on the sidewalk on Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica when he hit the pole. NY1

Critically injured Aurora victims may not live

The mayor of a Denver suburb that was the site of one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history says some victims are still terribly injured and may not live. Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan says he and his staff visited victims in various hospitals on Saturday. He told ABC’s “This Week” that some victims must still undergo major surgery. NYPost 

Sunnyside cyclist killed in hit-and-run


| brennison@queenscourier.com

A cyclist was killed last night in Sunnyside after being struck by a car that sped off after the crash.

The 37-year-old was biking heading eastbound on Greenpoint Avenue when he was hit from behind by a dark colored sedan heading the same direction, police said. The Daily News reported that sources said the speeding car ran a red light.

The vehicle did not stop and fled the sight.

EMS pronounced the victim dead at the scene.

An investigation is ongoing.

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rangel, Long, Meng, Jeffries, Velazquez Declared Winners In Primaries 

According to AP numbers as of 12:30 a.m., Meng had 51 percent of the vote with 89 percent of precincts reporting. Assemblyman Rory Lancman had 28 percent, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley had 16 percent and Dr. Robert Mittman had 5 percent. Read more: [NY1] 

Rapper 50 Cent Involved in LIE Crash 

Rapper 50 Cent is out of the hospital after an accident with a tractor trailer. The accident happened just before midnight Tuesday on the Long Island Expressway. A spokesperson for the rapper, also known as Curtis Jackson, said he was treated for minor back and neck injuries at New York Hospital Queens. Read more: [NY1] 

Congregation Ahavath Shalom Synagogue in Forest Hills loses relics in burglary 

Religious artifacts were swiped from a Queens synagogue sometime in the past week, and the thief is still on the lam, cops said. The four objects — including a silver pointer, Torah breast plate, silver-coated plate and a ritual wine cup — were discovered missing Monday from the Congregation Ahavath Shalom Synagogue on 113th St. in Forest Hills, according to officials. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

Students once again learn to cook with acclaimed chefs as web show ‘Culinary High TV’ debuts its third season

A Queens producer is in talks to turn a popular web series, that teaches at-risk teens how to cook in some of the city’s top restaurants, into a television show. The third season of “Culinary High TV” debuts Friday on the show’s website. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

 

[UPDATE] 30 injured in Queens school bus crash


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Thirty people — including children — were involved in a school bus crash in Fresh Meadows this morning, the fire department said.

The accident occurred at approximately 7:45 a.m, according to officials.

The bus was taking children to Yeshiva of Central Queens.

There were no injuries, except one minor cut, said Principal Rabbi Mark Landsman.

 

 

Despite lawsuits, DOT work, off-ramp still unsafe


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A stretch of street – proven unsafe for cars, pedestrians and even storefronts – has “struck” again.

Following three crashes in as many months in 2011, another car accident occurred on May 1 at the off-ramp of the Ed Koch-Queensborough Bridge, located on Queens Plaza South near Crescent Street in Long Island City.

A taxi driver came off of the exit and collided with scaffolding, but no one was injured during the incident.

The crash was the fourth overall in the last 12 months – including two accidents within nine days of each other last year, during which drivers were speeding and failed to negotiate the sharp turn at the end of the ramp, causing them to smash their cars into two nearby storefronts. One passenger and one pedestrian were killed in the accidents, and both drivers lost a limb.

The proprietors of the two stores – Espinal Caribbean Restaurant II and Villa De Beauté hair salon – are suing a number of parties, including the city, Department of Transportation (DOT) and the drivers and owners of the vehicles, for roughly $1 million in damages.

“There was negligence on the part of the various defendants,” said Scott Agulnick, the shop owners’ attorney. “Our lawsuit is not like a personal injury lawsuit. We are actually seeking real damages – the loss of equipment, inventory, improvements and revenue itself, along with the good faith the businesses had built. The various parties owe a duty to use the reasonable care that an ordinary person would do under those circumstances. Those people who are designing the roadway and the traffic pattern owed a reasonable duty when doing so to prevent a dangerous situation. The drivers of the vehicle owed a duty of care to keep their vehicles under control, and the owners of the vehicles are vicariously liable.”

The store owners, 44-year-old Tony Espinal and 32-year-old Akber Jiwani, were unavailable for comment.

Agulnick says Espinal is focusing on his other restaurant, while Jiwani, whose equipment and revenue was not insured, is struggling and uncertain regarding his future plans.
The recent crash represents the resurgence of a problem the city hoped it had already remedied.

Following last year’s barrage of accidents, the DOT attempted to improve safety conditions in the area by changing traffic patterns, increasing signs and erecting concrete barricades on the edge of the sidewalk.

According to DOT spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera, the department regularly reminds drivers of the appropriate speed limits on bridges and has also installed rumble strips, flashing lights and reflective tape at the off-ramp.

Senator Michael Gianaris, who was among several elected officials who requested the DOT institute the changes, believes more must be done to keep people out of harm’s way.

Despite the traffic improvements, many who work and live in the area still consider crossing near the ramp unsafe, while others believe the ramp is only dangerous when people do not follow proper traffic laws and procedures.

James Haran, who works down the block from the ramp, has seen damage done first hand.

“People are hectic coming off the bridge,” said Haran. “They cut people off and it can cause accidents. There is also a good amount of speeding. This is definitely not the best place to drive. I wouldn’t feel comfortable driving or crossing the street at this spot. My friend was hit by a speeding car at this spot two weeks ago. He is still in the hospital with a broken leg and has had four surgeries.”

12 injured in Maspeth school bus crash


| brennison@queenscourier.com

file photo

Twelve people were injured when a school bus collided with a car in Maspeth this morning.

The crash occurred on the corner of 68th Street and the Long Island Expressway service road at approximately 7:30 this morning.

Only minor injuries were sustained, according to officials. The injured were taken to Elmhurst Hospital and New York Hospital Queens.

It is uncertain how many of the injured were students.

 

Top Headlines From Around the Web


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Jailed Queens man who says he didn’t commit murder wins retrial

A Queens man who spent eight of his 38 years in jail for a murder he says he didn’t commit won a retrial Wednesday. Tejpal Singh’s murder conviction was set aside by Queens Supreme Court Justice Michael Aloise after two key witnesses recanted their claim that he gunned down 19-year-old Kamaljit Singh in 1996. During five weeks of hearings Tejpal’s attorney, Stephen Murphy, grilled Ramjit “Rocky” Singh, who claimed at Tejpal’s trial that he was the drive-by shooter. Read More: New York Post

 

Former Yankees pitcher Pavano victim of extortion attempt, family says

Former Yankees pitcher Carl Pavano was the victim of an extortion attempt in which a former classmate tried to get money and an SUV from the right-hander by threatening to reveal information about his personal life, Pavano’s family claims. Read More: New York Post

 

300-pound hero flight passenger said he had no choice when he took down crazy captain

David Gonzalez boarded a plane to Las Vegas on Tuesday morning and managed to do something that very, very few people have ever done. Gonzalez put the pilot in a choke hold while the aircraft was in midair. But Gonzalez, of Henryville, Pa., said he had no other choice. The pilot was acting so erratically that the plane’s crew asked for passengers’ help to subdue him, the Pocono Record reported Thursday. Gonzalez, a former New York City corrections officer, reflected on his experience aboard JetBlue Flight 191. He said he was happy no one got hurt and that he was trying to deal as best he could with being thrust overnight into the national media spotlight. Read More: New York Post

 

Off-duty cop driving wrong way killed in fiery crash in Bronx

An off-duty Mount Vernon cop, driving the wrong way on the New England Thruway, was killed in a fiery crash when he slammed head-on into a tractor-trailer in the Bronx early this morning, authorities said. Reginald Velez, 29, was driving south in the northbound center lane in his Lexus sedan near exit 11 when he plowed into the rig at about 2:35 a.m., officials said. The Lexus immediately burst into flames. Read More: New York Post

 

Cop accidentally shoots woman during Brooklyn drug raid, sources say

A police officer accidentally discharged his weapon during a drug raid in Brooklyn and struck a woman – leaving her in critical condition, police sources said. Brooklyn South Narcotics officers were searching a third floor apartment in a building on Clarendon Road near Nostrand Avenue when an officer’s gun accidentally went off and shot through the floor, striking a 25-year-old woman in the residence below. Read More: New York Post

 

Ex-club owner turns down no-jail plea for Manhattan bar brawl with Prince of Monaco

Royal jaw-buster Adam Hock turned down a no-jail plea in a Manhattan courtroom today — insisting he’ll go to trial to prove he was the victim of “international bar brawlers” in his flashy February fight with the Prince of Monaco. “We have information that these four individuals are known bar brawlers,” Hock’s new lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, insisted after a brief court appearance today, referring to Prince Pierre Casiraghi and the three royal pals Hock is charged with also decking. Read More: New York Post

 

Jamaica Dumping Ground Gets A Clean Sweep

The fence and graffiti are still there, but at least one problem is gone — the mounds of trash that filled this illegal dumping site along the Van Wyck Expressway in Jamaica, Queens. On Wednesday, sanitation workers spent nearly six hours cleaning the well-known dumping ground after NY1 called them about the problem. “It was sick to look at, you know,” said resident Mo Ali. “It’s like our place, you know. It’s getting back to normal.” Read More: NY1

 

Two Hospitalized Following Van Wyck Service Road Accident

Several people were injured Wednesday in a three car pile-up on the Van Wyck service road in South Jamaica, Queens. The accident happened near Linden Boulevard around noon Wednesday. Firefighters used the “jaws of life” to remove one of the passengers, as the rear of the car hung on a bent street sign. One witness said the driver was unresponsive with his foot still on the pedal, spinning the car’s wheels. Read More: NY1

Pedestrian struck and killed on Union Turnpike


| brennison@queenscourier.com

A pedestrian crossing Union Turnpike was struck and killed just before 6 p.m. on Wednesday, February 29, according to authorities.

The victim was struck as he attempted to cross Union Turnpike in Oakland Gardens by a Volkswagen driven by a 24-year-old woman, police said.

EMS responded to the scene and took the 40-year-old victim to North Shore Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

According to crashstat.org, there have been 15 pedestrian injuries at the intersection of Union Turnpike and Springfield Boulevard since 1995, but no fatalities.

There is no criminality suspected at this time and the investigation is ongoing.

 

Four Attacks in Queens With Homemade Firebombs


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Four Attacks in Queens With Homemade Firebombs

A Fire Department official on Monday said it was fortunate that the damage was minimal from a series of arson attacks across eastern Queens on Sunday night that the police were investigating as a possible bias crime against Muslims. No one was hurt in the four attacks, in which homemade firebombs were apparently used. In three of the four attacks, the police said, Molotov cocktails were made with Starbucks bottles. The first attack occurred just before 8 p.m. at a bodega at 179-46 Hillside Avenue. Ten minutes later, another crude firebomb was thrown, this time at the home at 107th Avenue, and the house caught fire. Read More: New York Times

Authorities Release Sketch, Video Of Suspect In Queens Firebomb Attacks

Authorities say the suspect, seen above in surveillance video and a police sketch, is between 25 to 30 years old, about 5-feet-8-inches tall and weighs about 200 pounds. He was seen driving a light-colored, four-door sedan. Police say the first cocktail was thrown at a bodega on Hillside Avenue in Jamaica around 8 p.m. Sunday and it damaged the store’s counter. Fewer than 10 minutes later, a second call came in about a homemade firebomb being thrown at a house on 107th Avenue. Read More: NY1

MTA Conductor Charged With Assaulting Passenger

An Metropolitan Transportation Authority conductor is charged with assault after police say he punched a passenger on an R train in Queens. Police say Thomas Christopher, 35, hit the passenger, identified by sources as 18-year-old Zaid al-Doori, after arguing with him near the 36th Street station Sunday morning. Published reports say Christopher was upset because al-Doori had put his feet up on the seats. Read More: NY1

Driver In Custody Following Deadly LIE Crash

One person was killed this morning following a fiery accident on a Queens highway, which was possibly fueled by New Year’s Eve drinking. Officials say the accident happened just after 5 a.m. on the Long Island Expressway. Police sources say a car was rear-ended near the Maurice Avenue exit, causing it to flip over and catch on fire. The driver of that car was pronounced dead at the scene. Sources say the driver of the second vehicle was taken to Elmhurst Hospital in police custody. Read More: NY1

37 feet from disaster at JFK

An airline crew’s failure to follow controllers’ instructions caused the scariest runway incident last year at Kennedy Airport, authorities said yesterday. On June 30, the pilots of a Cairo-bound EgyptAir Boeing 777 mistakenly taxied just 37 feet shy of a runway where they would have been in the path of a Lufthansa jet speeding toward takeoff, the Federal Aviation Administration said. Controllers had told them to make a left turn to another taxiway, the FAA said. With seconds to spare, the Lufthansa crew brought the Airbus A340 to a screeching halt, partly by jamming on its brakes so hard that they overheated. Read More: New York Post

Teacher out on her butt

A foulmouthed teacher got her butt fired after she told a group of ninth-graders “they had their brains in their ass,” then tried to bribe a student to save her hide, officials said. The city Department of Education accused Bernadette Camacho, 39, of verbally abusing social-studies students at Hillcrest HS in Queens, according to investigation documents The Post obtained through a Freedom of Information request. But during the hearings that would decide her fate, the teacher tried to coerce a flunking female student to sing her praises in court in exchange for a passing grade, officials said. Read More: New York Post

Stun-of-a-gun gal arrested at JFK

A Chinese national was busted trying to sneak a stun gun through a security checkpoint at Kennedy Airport, the Transportation Security Administration said yesterday. Sihui Xie, 21, was trying to board a flight to Orlando Friday when a TSA screener spotted the pen-sized stun gun tucked in her carry-on bag. At first the item appeared to be a flashlight, but a closer look revealed it to be a stun gun/flashlight hybrid. Port Authority cops arrested the woman and charged her with possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. Read More: New York Post

Actress-threat gal is slapped

A Queens woman was indicted yesterday for allegedly sending threatening e-mails to Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard. Teresa Yuan was charged by a Brooklyn federal grand jury with five counts of transmitting threats to the film star, who won an Academy Award for best actress in 2008 for her role as Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose.” Brooklyn federal prosecutors said Yuan e-mailed a video to the actress’ Internet fan site asking: “Would you be willing to play Russian Roulette? You have only one out of six chances of being shot. You have five out of six chances of living.” Yuan was arrested this past summer by the FBI and arraigned in August. She remains free on bail while awaiting trial, officials said. Read More: New York Post

Motorist dies of apparent suicide while driving on the Throgs Neck Bridge


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Motorist dies of apparent suicide while driving on the Throgs Neck Bridge

A 36-year-old man killed himself with a shot to the head while driving on the Throgs Neck Bridge on Monday night, police said. The man was heading northbound from Queens toward the Bronx in a 1999 Chevy Silverado when he took his own life just before he arrived at the tollbooth, cops said. After the driver pulled the trigger at 7:11 p.m., police said, the man’s silver pickup truck slammed into another car and then careened into a tollbooth entrance. Read More: Daily News

‘Junk-justice radar’ on high alert in Queens district attorney’s office conviction of Tejpal Singh

This is last week and two court officers lead convicted murderer Tejpal Singh into the Queens courtroom of the Honorable Michael B. Aloise, a courtroom jammed with Sikh men in turbans. They uncuff him at the defense table. Aloise oddly stands through loud arguments from high-powered defense attorney Stephen G. Murphy, who charges that in Singh’s case, the Queens district attorney’s office has convicted yet another in a parade of innocent people. Read More: Daily News

Sex suspect takes plunge

A depraved sicko nearly plunged to his death from a fourth-floor window after sexually attacking a young woman in her Queens apartment building, police sources said yesterday. Gustavo Avila, 20, was listed in critical condition at Elmhurst Hospital following Wednesday’s incident on 83rd Street in Jackson Heights, sources said. Read More: New York Post

Long Island man arrested in killing of young mom and her 2-year-old son

A Long Island man has been arrested for killing his one-time love interest and her 2-year-old son, whose little body was found in a freezer, police said. Jerry Lewis, 24, repeatedly stabbed Shakeela Planter, 21, on the morning of December 18 inside the North Bay Shore apartment they had been sharing, police said. Lewis did not spare Planter’s son, Jaiden Planter, police said. He beat the toddler, stuffed his body into a plastic bag and stashed him in his mother’s freezer, police said. Read More: Daily News

Miracle survivors

A Queens family of six driving upstate for the holidays “miraculously” survived a frightening accident that sent their SUV tumbling off the highway and launched the youngest of the clan out of the car. Although his entire family was hospitalized after the early-morning wreck yesterday near the town of Bethlehem, 42-year-old dad Eli Rowe sounded grateful that things didn’t turn out worse. He said their 2010 Mercedes veered off the rain-soaked New York Thruway and flipped over multiple times as they were headed from Flushing to Lake George for a family getaway. Read More: New York Post

Shoppers take it all back

With Christmas finally over, throngs of sale-crazy shoppers flocked to stores across New York yesterday in hopes of correcting Kris Kringle’s little mistakes and ringing in 2012 with huge savings. “It’s crazy how chaotic it is,” said Alex, a 27-year-old college student who was exchanging a $230 sweater for a $200 button-down shirt at Saks Fifth Avenue. He declined to give his last name in an apparent bid to spare the gift giver’s feelings. The Saks sale — in which many posh items at the high-end store were slashed up to 70 percent — led to “lots of pushing and shoving,” said one witness. Read More: New York Post

‘Double-dater’ teacher

Gerard Cassidy, a physical-education instructor at a Queens middle school, was caught in a love triangle and fired for having an “inappropriate relationship” with an ex-student — while dating her mom, The Post has learned. Cassidy, 44, who taught at MS 137 America’s School of Heroes in Ozone Park, lost a fight for his $83,600-a-year job even though the 16-year-old student recanted her claim that she had sex with the teacher, according to city Department of Education documents and court records. The age of consent in New York is 17. Cassidy denied any wrongdoing. Read More: New York Post

Comptroller: Last Year’s Christmas Blizzard Cost City About $2M In Settlements

The city is still paying the price for its sluggish response to the major blizzard from exactly one year ago, in the form of liability claims. The City Comptroller’s office says it has paid out nearly $2 million in liability claims so far, and there may be more to come. The biggest settlement so far was $150,000 for a man who fell in an icy parking lot that was not shoveled properly by the city. Another $100,000 thousand went to a Brooklyn cemetery where headstones were damaged by a falling fence after snow had been dumped against it. Read More: NY1

Felonies Sharply Increase This Year In The Rockaways

Even as police report that crime rates remain mostly flat around the city, statistics show felonies have spiked in parts of the Rockaways section of Queens. Burglaries in the 100th precinct, covering Broad Channel, Breezy Point and Belle Harbor, are up 144 percent this year. Felony assaults have jumped 66 percent, robberies are up 31 percent and grand larcenies 26 percent over last year. Residents in Belle Harbor who spoke with NY1 said they are aware of the increased crime in the area, but generally still feel safe. Read More: NY1

Elmhurst Fire Sends Two To The Hospital

Investigators say two people were hurt when a fire broke out inside the Martinique Plaza residential complex in Elmhurst on Sunday morning. The two victims were taken to Elmhurst Hospital, and two others with minor injuries were evaluated at the scene. The fire started on the second floor of the building, but firefighters put it out before it spread to other floors. Read More: NY1

Radio’s Lynn Samuels dies at 69

Lynn Samuels, longtime doyenne of New York’s talk-radio airwaves, died of a heart attack over the weekend. She was 69. An unabashed liberal, Samuels mixed searing political commentary with humor, sarcasm and at times profane observations about living in the Big Apple, attracting a loyal following over more than three decades on the air. Broadcast on SiriusXM satellite radio from her Woodside apartment, her distinctive voice — raspy with elongated vowels — instantly established her as a native New Yorker. Read More: New York Post

Alleged cop killer gets into Rikers Island brawl with guards


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Alleged cop killer gets into Rikers Island brawl with guards

Alleged cop killer Lamont Pride got into a fight with two jail guards after the ex-con refused to undergo a routine search, authorities said today. Pride, 27, has been charged in the murder of Officer Peter Figoski after he allegedly shot the cop in the face last week during a robbery attempt in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. Authorities told The Post that Pride, who has been at Rikers Island since his arrest on Dec. 12, was undergoing a medical exam Monday when he refused to cooperate with a routine search. Read More: New York Post

 

Mystery Donor Named In Cornell Tech Campus Bid

The person who made an anonymous $350 million donation to Cornell University for an applied sciences campus in the city has been identified. Billionaire philanthropist and Cornell alumnus Charles Feeney granted the money to the upstate university. Feeney made his fortune by building duty free airport shops before anybody had even heard of duty free shops. Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday announced that Cornell and Israel’s Technion Institute won the city’s competition to build the campus on Roosevelt Island. The mayor says the plan was chosen because of the its scale and the schools’ reputations for science breakthroughs and entrepreneurship. Read More: NY1

 

Five Suspects To Be Arraigned In Shooting Death Of NYPD Officer

One day after a city police officer shot and killed in the line of duty was laid to rest, the five men charged in his death are due in court. Lamont Pride, Kevin Santos, Ariel Tejada, Nelson Moralez, and Michael Velez are all expected to be arraigned on their indictments later today. They appeared in court Friday but did not enter any pleas. All five are charged with murder in the death of Officer Peter Figoski, 47. Speaking to reporters today, law enforcement officials said no mercy will be shown towards the accused men and that there is no chance of a plea bargain. Read More: NY1

 

Raising the stakes: Resorts World unveils VIP casino

High-rollers now have a space of their own at Resorts World Casino in South Ozone Park. Following a grand opening that drew more than 65,000 visitors, the casino at Aqueduct Racino unveiled the remaining two floors of its new facility on December 16 – showing off high-priced amenities and big payoff games. The new features include 2,514 additional Video Lottery Terminals (VLT) and Electronic Table Games (ETG) at the Fifth Avenue Casino, bringing the grand total to 5,000 machines. The casino also gave visitors a sneak peak at two new 250-seat fine dining restaurants with private dining rooms and balconies featuring panoramic views of the racetrack. Read More: Queens Courier

 

Small plane crashes near Rt. 287 in NJ, 3 feared dead: report

Multiple fatalities were feared Tuesday after a small plane crashed on a New Jersey highway. Local television footage showed what appeared to be the charred remnants of the aircraft alongside Route 287 near Harding, N.J. The heavily-traveled roadway was closed in both directions. Harding Township police chief Kevin Gaffney told FOX News Channel that there were multiple fatalities. It was not immediately known how many people were on board the plane. State Police Trooper Christopher Kay says there is a report of three possible deaths. Read More: New York Post

 

Paroled American Berenson arrives in US

Paroled American Lori Berenson, who stirred international controversy when she was convicted of aiding Peruvian guerrillas, arrived in the United States Tuesday morning for her first visit home since Peruvian authorities arrested her in 1995. Lori Berenson’s plane touched down at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey around 7:35 a.m. The 42-year-old, dressed in black and a black-and-gray sweater vest, was surrounded by Port Authority officers. Her mother Rhoda Berenson, who was waiting in the general arrivals area, sprinted over to her daughter after police escorted Berenson through an area of customs where airport officials check suspicious bags. Read More: New York Post

 

Force of 20,000 in final salute to hero cop Figoski

He had been a cop for 22 years, but it was only after his death that Peter Figoski’s four daughters realized what that truly meant. “We now feel connected to a side of our dad we rarely saw at home — he put us aside from his duties as a police officer and always put us first,’’ the grief-stricken girls said in a heartbreaking statement read at their father’s funeral yesterday. “When a hero falls, an angel rises. Rest in peace, Daddy.’’ Read More: New York Post

 

Kim Jong Il body displayed, North Korea media hail son

The body of North Korea’s long-time ruler Kim Jong Il was laid out in a memorial palace Tuesday as weeping mourners filled public plazas and state media fed a budding personality cult around his third son, hailing him as “born of heaven.” Indicating that the leadership transition in the communist dynasty is on track, Kim Jong Un — Kim’s youngest known son and successor — visited the body with top military and Workers’ Party officials and held what state media called a “solemn ceremony” in the capital, Pyongyang, as the country mourned. Read More: New York Post

 

Firefighter hurt in booze-fueled 2003 brawl at Staten Island firehouse not entitled to line-of-duty payouts 

 The state’s highest court Tuesday rejected a former firefighter’s bid for full disability benefits for injuries sustained in an infamous 2003 firehouse brawl. Robert Walsh, who was injured in the booze-fueled melee on Staten Island, was not entitled to more lucrative line-of-duty benefits because his injuries were not related to his job, the Court of Appeals ruled, upholding lower court decisions. Read More: Daily News