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Crime & Cases January 31, 2013  RSS feed

THE FAST LANE TO A JAIL CELL

Drunk Driver Killed Worker In F.H.
by Robert Pozarycki

A Hillcrest man admitted in court last Thursday, Jan. 24, to fatally striking a construction worker while driving drunk on the Grand Central Parkway in Forest Hills last July, law enforcement sources announced.

Munshi Abdullah, 26, of 86th Road, entered a guilty plea to a charge of second-degree vehicular manslaughter during a hearing in Queens Criminal Court before Acting Supreme Court Justice Dorothy Chin-Brandt, who accepted the plea and scheduled sentencing to take place on Mar. 12.

Abdullah faces up to 2 1/3 to seven years in prison for causing the death of Frank Avino, 63, a construction worker from Ronkonkoma, L.I. who was run down by the defendant’s car while setting up a work area on the parkway on the morning of July 10, 2012.

During last Thursday’s hearing, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown stated, Justice Chin-Brandt indicated that she would order Abdullah to serve the maximum penalty under the law.

“[Abdullah] has admitted that his violent actions were responsible for the untimely death of a hard-working man,” Brown said in a statement last Thursday. “As such, the prison term and conditions to be imposed ... are more than justified.”

The fatal accident occurred at around 11 a.m. on July 10, 2012 along the westbound lanes of the Grand Central Parkway near the Jewel Avenue exit.

Reportedly, Avino—who was employed by Welsbach Electric Corp. based in College Point—was working on the closed left lane of the parkway to prepare for electrical work, standing behind a vehicle while setting up cones.

Law enforcement sources said that, at the same time, Abdullah was behind the wheel of a 2002 Audi A6 traveling in the westbound left lane at a high rate of speed.

A subsequent investigation determined that the vehicle was traveling at 58 mph at the time of the accident, well above the posted 50 mph speed limit.

Seconds later, authorities noted, the Audi struck Avino, who hit the windshield and was hurtled several feet into the air before landing on the top of a construction vehicle.

Officers from the 112th Precinct, the NYPD Highway Patrol Unit 3 and EMS units rushed to the scene. Avino was pronounced dead at the location.

Abdullah remained at the scene inside the Audi which struck Avino, law enforcement sources said. Upon approaching the defendant, law enforcement sources said, police officers observed that Abdullah exhibited signs of intoxication, including bloodshot, watery eyes and an odor of alcohol on his breath.

Reportedly, the defendant also did not produce a valid driver’s license when officers asked to see it.

Prosecutors noted that Abdullah was then taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where a blood test was administered. The exam reportedly found that he had a blood alcohol level of .18 percent, a full tenth of a percent above the .08 percent limit in New York State.

During questioning, authorities stated, Abdullah admitted to drinking between midnight and 3 a.m. on the morning of the accident. He reportedly claimed that he decided to drive since his other friends were too intoxicated to get behind the wheel.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney John Kosinski, chief of the D.A.’s Vehicular Homicide Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Kerona K. Samuels of the D.A.’s Homicide Investigations Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Peter T. Reese, Homicide Investigations Bureau chief, and Peter J. McCormack III and Richard B. Schaeffer, deputy bureau chiefs.