Driver unfazed by crash deaths: DA

By Alex Christodoulides

The driver charged in the Aug. 5 crash that killed a Kew Gardens couple in Forest Hills was a 17-year-old driving a family friend's Mercedes-Benz allegedly under the influence of drugs who showed more concern for the car he had been driving than the people who died, the Queens district attorney said.

When Jacob Chubalashvili, 17, of Forest Hills, spoke with police at Jamaica Hospital Aug. 5, he asked them, “How is the Mercedes? That was supposed to be my car,” District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Chubalashvili was arraigned last Thursday on charges of second-degree manslaughter in the deaths of Ki and Hyekyung Kim of Kew Gardens, unauthorized use of a vehicle, driving without a license as well as speeding and running a red light, the DA said. He was ordered held on $500,000 bail, Brown said.

If convicted, he faces a minimum of five years and a maximum of 15 years in prison, the DA said.

Chubalashvili allegedly took the 2003 Mercedes of a family friend, Michael Moshel, while high on marijuana in the early morning of Aug. 5 and was driving 60 miles per hour in a 30-mile-per-hour zone along the eastbound Grand Central Parkway service road when he ran a red light and broadsided the Kims' Acura at 69th Road, the DA said.

The Kims were killed instantly, according to the criminal complaint filed by the district attorney's office.

The teen also faces a robbery rap in a May incident in which he and two friends allegedly ganged up on another teen at a Forest Hills playground, taking his cell phone, hitting him and following him home to take $200, according to the criminal complaint in that case.

If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison on these charges, a spokesman for the DA said.

Chubalashvili was due in court Aug. 19 in the robbery case and again Aug. 21 on the charges related to the fatal crash.