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Tag Archives: Newsday

Brooklyn Man Charged with Killing his Friend in DWI crash

I can not stress this enough, please talk to your children about driving drunk. This crash happened very close to my home and I have children who are the same age as these young men involved. Males aged 18-26 are the most expensive to insure because they are the most dangerous drivers. We must make sure our kids know that if they’ve been drinking they need to have a designated driver, or take an Uber or a cab home. This is a travesty! Don’t let it happen you!

For the full article read below:

A Nassau jury on Thursday found a Brooklyn man who didn’t attend his own trial guilty of killing his friend in a high-speed, drunken-driving parkway crash on Thanksgiving in 2014.

Bilal Hassan, 24, now faces up to 25 years in prison for the wreck that prosecutors said happened after he drove while highly intoxicated and at 133 miles an hour.

The crash ended the life of Malih Takkouche, 24, of Brooklyn, as the friends headed home from a nightclub.

Authorities said the early-morning holiday wreck happened after Hassan sped past a state trooper’s car while driving with a revoked license and without an ignition interlock device he had been ordered to use after a previous drunken-driving conviction.

State troopers found Hassan’s crushed and burning Infiniti Q50 in a ravine near ramps for the Meadowbrook State Parkway and Southern State Parkway, with both occupants heavily entrapped.

“A 24-year-old man is not going back to his family, so there are no winners today, only justice,” prosecutor Michael Bushwack said of Takkouche, while reacting to Thursday’s verdict.

Takkouche had been studying nursing at Kingsborough Community College and was on the honor roll, an attorney for his family said.

Jurors found Hassan guilty of all counts against him, which included aggravated vehicular homicide and manslaughter charges.

Prosecutors had told jurors that tests had shown Hassan’s blood-alcohol content had been 0.16 percent, or twice the legal threshold for intoxication.

 They said Hassan lost control of the Infiniti while trying to exit the Meadowbrook before the car hit a big tree head-on.

Authorities also said Takkouche spent the last moments of his life bracing for a deadly impact — suffering injuries that included multiple arm fractures — as if he’d had his arms up in front of himself.

“They are very satisfied that he’s held accountable by this verdict, but of course no verdict can bring back their son, their brother,” said Gregory Grizopoulos, an attorney for Takkouche’s relatives, who he said are planning a lawsuit.

Before the verdict, defense attorney Christopher Devane told Nassau County Judge Philip Grella that his client, who was in a cell elsewhere in the courthouse, didn’t respond when he told him the jurors had made their minds up.

Officials have said Hassan, an inmate at Nassau’s jail, has publicly declared that he doesn’t recognize the court’s authority.

“This is one-way justice,” Hassan’s father said after the verdict, while adding that he was sorry for the victim’s death.

Devane said he would file an appeal and declined to further comment.

The judge set Hassan’s sentencing for Aug. 4.

Photo: Newsday

Two People Die After a Crash on the LIE

Earlier this week two young people were killed on the Long Island Expressway in Old Westbury. They had just been involved in a car crash and were in the HOV lane where they were fatally struck.

Read below for the full article and for tips on how to stay safe if you ever in a similar situation:

Two people were killed and two others injured after the car they were traveling in crashed, then was struck by an SUV as it sat in the HOV lane of the Long Island Expressway during a teeming rainstorm Monday night in Old Westbury, police said.

The crash took place just minutes after the initial accident on the westbound expressway between exits 40 and 39, at about 11 p.m., said Nassau Det. Sgt. James Skopek, of the Nassau Homicide Squad, which investigates traffic fatalities.

Nassau police Tuesday would not identify the SUV driver, who they said was not going to be charged criminally. But law enforcement sources identified him as an off-duty NYPD highway patrol officer. When contacted by phone, he had no comment.

The car that was struck, a BMW, with four young people inside, had crashed into a guardrail, careened across the lanes of traffic, struck the median and came to a stop in the HOV lane, Skopek said.

The four people in the BMW then got out of the car, Skopek said, and then the SUV driver, in a 2016 GMC Yukon, struck the two victims who died and the BMW. The two other victims were hospitalized with minor injuries.

The Yukon driver, 33, had minor injuries and was taken to the hospital for treatment, police said.

It was not immediately clear what role the weather might have played in the accidents. The investigation into the cause of both crashes is continuing.

But Skopek described the conditions as “terrible, terrible weather, the rain, limited lighting, very dark in that part of the expressway.”

Skopek said “some of the lights may have not been illuminated. Is that a regular thing or is the weather condition that caused that, I don’t know.”

He added: “It was bad last night. It was nasty.”

Skopek stressed there was no apparent criminality.

“We conferenced this with the district attorney’s office,” said Skopek. “There was a rep from the district attorney’s office there. There is no indication at this time that there was any criminality at all — nothing.”

The BMW driver, a 20-year-old man from Queens, was thrown over the median and was found in the far eastbound side of the expressway and pronounced dead at the scene, Skopek said.

An 18-year-old upstate woman, who was a BMW passenger, was transported to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, where police said she was pronounced dead.

The two surviving BMW passengers, an 18-year-old woman and a 19-year-old man, were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, Skopek said. One is from Brooklyn and the other is from Queens, he said.

Police said the identities of the victims have been withheld pending notifications of next of kin. The vehicles were impounded for safety checks, police said.

“It’s a tragic, tragic accident for these two young people and our hearts go out to the families,” said Skopek, who asked any witness to the crashes to contact police.

The crash closed the eastbound lanes of the LIE until 3:30 a.m. Tuesday and the westbound lanes until 5:15 a.m.

Skopek advised anyone in an accident to stay inside their vehicle, to try to move to a safe place and put on their hazard lights.

With John Valenti and Anthony M. DeStefano

Safety tips

Here’s what to do if your vehicle becomes disabled in a high-traffic area:

-Turn on your vehicle’s hazard lights.

-If possible, safely move your vehicle off the road away from traffic.

-Stay inside your vehicle once it is off the road and make all passengers stay inside, too.    Keep doors locked.

-If you’re unable to get off the roadway, get out of the vehicle and stand in a safe place  about 60 feet away from the rear of it. That way the traffic sees you before they see your  car.

-Don a reflective vest, raise the vehicle’s hood, tie a white cloth to a door handle or use      reflective triangles or flares.

-Set triangles or flares up behind the disabled car to alert approaching motorists.

-New York’s “move over” law requires motorists to move away at least one lane from fire,    road repair and other emergency vehicles when safe.

-The stats: 67 pedestrians were killed on Interstates in New York from 2010 to 2015; about  one-third of those deaths can be attributed to vehicle breakdowns. The equivalent figure    for the nation is 2,449.

Source: AAA New York, New York State law

Should New York State Seat Belt Laws Change?

In New York State there are no laws requiring adults over the age of 16 to wear a seat belt in the backseat. Regardless of your age, wearing a seat belt is vital for safety, even in the seemingly safe backseat. The rate of death from not wearing a seat belt is ridiculously high and especially between the ages of 16-24.

Read the full article below and comment your opinion on the lack of a seat belt law.

Nassau and Suffolk had about one-fifth of all state fatalities in car crashes in one category: backseat passengers 16 or older who had not buckled up, the AAA said Tuesday.

Suffolk had the worst record in the state, with 88 such deaths from 1995 to 2014. Nassau ranked third, with 70 fatalities, just one fewer than in Queens.

In all of New York State, 886 back-seat passengers in this category were killed.

Unlike 28 other states and the District of Columbia, New York does not require anyone older than 16 who is riding in the backseat to belt up, according to the nonprofit’s survey.

“What is particularly shocking to me is that we were the first state with any seat belt law,” said Alec Slatky, policy analyst, AAA Northeast chapter.

Despite heated opposition, then-Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1984 enacted the nation’s first seat belt requirement; only in 2000 was it expanded to include children aged 10 to 16 who sit in the backseats.

Noting deaths jump once teenagers no longer must belt in, Slatky said the AAA supports bills the legislature is considering requiring anyone 16 or older to wear seat belts if they ride in back.

Back-seat passengers from ages 16 to 24 “had by far the lowest rate of belt usage and accounted for more than half of the fatalities,” the survey said.

“This is a major problem … If you look at just Long Island, it’s about 8 adults a year killed in the back seat of a car while not wearing a seat belt,” Slatky said.

Though people sitting in the back might feel they are at less risk of being ejected than those in the front, they are twice as likely to kill front seat passengers — becoming a “bullet” in the AAA’s parlance — than if they were wearing seat belts, it found.

Unbelted back-seat passengers are three times more likely to be killed and eight times more likely to be seriously injured than if they were buckled in.

Pondering why back-seat passengers, especially young adults, are not buckling up, Slatky said:

“I think part of it’s people think they are safer in the back seat; part of it is just bravado.”

And for young adults riding in cars driven by their peers, “the social norms in such a situation may discourage restraint,” the survey said.

These kinds of fatalities rise with the number of people who live in an area and how much driving they do, the survey found.

All of New York City’s five counties had 190 deaths — about twice the number in Suffolk.

Nassau County Officials Remind Drivers to Share the Road with Motorcyclists

It is important that we remember to be mindful of motorcyclists and share the roads with them. For more information and tips on how to keep the roads safe for all drivers, see the full article below:

With warmer weather ahead, drivers should recognize they share the roadway with motorcyclists, Nassau County officials say.

Climbing temperatures are sure to prompt an increase in motorcycle use, so County Executive Edward Mangano and acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter in a news release stressed some safety guidelines for drivers.

Lacking such safety devices as seat belts and air bags, motorcyclists can be more prone to injury in crashes with passenger vehicles, the Friday news release said.

And because of their size and mobility in traffic, motorcycles often are undetected by other motorists — until it’s too late.

With that in mind, Mangano and Krumpter offered some safety rules for drivers:

Check blind spots. Motorcycles can easily slip into a driver’s blind spot — especially when they attempt to pass. Before changing lanes, check your blind spots. Use your mirrors.

Follow the four-second rule. Increase your driving distance when you’re behind a motorcycle. Maintain a cushion of at least four seconds.

Respect Mother Nature. Inclement weather, including strong winds, is even more hazardous for bikers than for drivers. Bad weather conditions reduce visibility and may make motorcycles more difficult to see. Drivers need to give themselves more space when in traffic with motorcycles.

Look before turning. A whopping 44 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents in 2013 were the result of a car trying to turn left while the motorcycle went straight, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Initiate your turn signal sooner than you normally would when you know there is a motorcycle nearby.

Night riding. Nighttime hours can be treacherous for motorcycle drivers. Motorists should increase their following distance and ensure that their high-beam lights are turned off. Also, when motorcycles are approaching, motorists should refrain from passing.

Be extra cautious. Winds generated by a passing truck or car can make a motorcycle unstable. Maintain an adequate following distance and a safe lane of traffic. Keep several car lengths between vehicles.

Photo: Newsday