By Rebecca Henely
The Long Island City drunk driver who struck and killed a 52-year-old Elmhurst man riding a scooter last year pleaded guilty to felony manslaughter Jan. 18, the Queens district attorney’s office said. He will be sentenced March 1, the DA said.
Richard Contreras, 29, who lives on Greenpoint Avenue near Star Avenue, admitted to hitting Chinese immigrant Jianqui Chen with his 2004 black Ford Explorer Feb. 12 at the intersection of 39th Place and the Queens Midtown Expressway service road, the DA said. Chen, 52, worked for Ten Full Kitchen in Sunnyside and was making a delivery for the restaurant when he was struck. He died shortly thereafter, the DA said.
Contreras fled the scene, but detectives later found him at the intersection of Bradley and Greenpoint avenues in Long Island City, the DA said. After observing Contreras had alcohol on his breath and slurred speech, the detectives subjected Contreras to an intoxilyzer test and found he had a blood alcohol content of .195 percent, the DA said.
In Queens Supreme Court, Contreras pleaded guilty to manslaughter before Justice Dorothy Chin-Brandt, the DA said. Chin-Brandt said she would sentence Contreras to 3 1/2 to 10 years in prison, the DA said.
“The defendant has admitted his guilt to a terrible and tragic crime and will justly serve a state prison sentence that will give him time to reflect upon his reckless actions that resulted in the untimely death of a hardworking man who came to America with his wife for a better life,” Brown said in a statement. “When an individual drives under the influence of alcohol, his vehicle ceases to be a means of transportation and instead becomes a deadly weapon capable of inflicting great bodily harm not just to the driver but to all who cross his path.”
At the time of the collision, police said Contreras had a previous DWI arrest in September 2009.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4564.