Hollis SUV driver charged in Far Rock senior’s death

By Michael Morton

Police identified the woman who was killed as Rosaliya Kustas, 65, of Far Rockaway.

The driver of the SUV, identified by police as Bernadette Fields, 34, of 102-04 185th St., was allegedly speeding southbound on 225th Street at about 12:50 p.m. when she ran a red light at the intersection of South Conduit Avenue, according to witnesses, police said. In doing so, she hit a Dodge van headed east on South Conduit Avenue, police said.

Both of the van's passengers and both of the drivers were taken to Jamaica Hospital, where police said Kustas died. The other three were in stable condition, police said.

The second passenger in the van was only identified by police as a 69-year-old man and the driver as a 39-year-old man. News reports said, however, that the passenger was Kustas' husband, Yefim Kustas. The reports also said Rosaliya Kustas was battling cancer and was returning to the couple's home from the hospital.

Police did not say how the crash killed Kustas, and relatives of hers living in Kew Gardens declined to comment.

Fields, who was arrested Friday, was originally charged with reckless endangerment, police said, but the charges were upgraded to criminally negligent homicide

If convicted, Fields faces up to four years in prison.

At the location of the crash, residents said they did not see Friday's collision but described the aftermath and what they said was a dangerous intersection.

At a group home on the southeast corner, Fred Bastien said the SUV ended up in their front lawn after driving over a fence that had been downed in a previous accident.

“They're always trying to make the light,” Bastien said. As evidence of his description of the intersection as dangerous, a fallen bumper from a previous accident sat across the street from where a light pole once stood before a car ran into it several weeks ago.

Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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