Man charged in fatal GCP crash

Man charged in fatal GCP crash
Photo by Ellis Kaplan
By Rich Bockmann and Steve Mosco

A Jamaica Hills man has been arraigned on charges of driving under the influence and mowing down a 63-year-old highway worker on the Grand Central Parkway last week, the Queens DA said.

District Attorney Richard Brown identified the driver as 26-year-old Munshi Abdullah in the fatal accident that took the life of Frank Avino near Jewel Avenue in Forest Hills at around 11 a.m. July 10. According to Brown, Abdullah was arraigned on charges of vehicular manslaughter and driving while under the influence of alcohol in the death of Avino, an electrician with Welsbach Electric Corp. in College Point.

“The defendant is accused of getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol and striking and killing a hardworking family man,” said Brown. “By his alleged actions, the defendant illustrated the lethal consequences resulting from driving while intoxicated.”

Brown listed the exact charges against Abdullah as second-degree manslaughter, second-degree vehicular manslaughter, driving by unlicensed operator and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Abdullah was ordered held on $350,000 bail and ordered to return to court July 25.

According to police, Abdullah was driving a 2002 Audi A6 at unsafe speeds when he came upon a construction vehicle parked in the left lane with its arrow light flashing, indicating the lane was closed. Behind the truck, Avino was placing traffic cones and preparing to fix a light pole when he was struck, according to the NYPD. The impact threw Avino up into the air so high that he landed on the construction vehicle, according to Brown.

Avino was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police responding to the scene observed that the Audi had front end damage and a shattered windshield — cops also said Abdullah allegedly had bloodshot watery eyes and a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, according to a criminal complaint filed by the district attorney. Police also alleged that Abdullah flailed his arms in an attempt to avoid being handcuffed and that a portable breath test was administered to Abdullah resulting in a blood alcohol content reading of .21 percent — above the legal limit of .08 percent in New York, according to the NYPD.

Cops further alleged that Abdullah was unable to produce a valid New York state driver’s license upon request of the police officers and that in a statement to police, he allegedly admitted to drinking from 12 a.m. to 3 a.m. that morning and that he was driving the Audi because his friends were too drunk to drive, according to the criminal complaint.

Based on skid marks at the scene, authorities determined that the minimum speed of the Audi was 58 mph at the time of the collision, and that the posted speed limit is 50 mph, the criminal complaint said.

Janette Sadik-Khan, commissioner of the city Department of Transportation, released a statement on the incident and said this is a grim reminder of the dangers posed to highway workers.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and to his loved ones,” said Sadik-Khan. “This incident reminds us of so many other tragedies on our streets caused by speeding and by drunk and reckless driving, and we will not let up in our efforts to fight each on every front.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.