Police release names of victims in SUV crash

Police release names of victims in SUV crash
By Rich Bockmann

The NYPD Monday released the names of the three survivors and five people who died in the fiery SUV crash in Jamaica over the weekend.

Driver Oby Okoro, 46 and two passengers — 7-year old Cjidechukwu Obioha and 26-year old Kingsley Maduka — were listed in stable condition at Jamaica Hospital.

Munachimso Obioha, 8, Ebube Obafor-Mba, 9, Gladys Nnena Johnson Obioha, 60, and Chiwe Mcdonald, 45, were all pronounced dead at the scene Sunday morning. The police said they all lived at the same address on Baker Avenue in the Bronx.

Christine Epchon, whose age was not released, was also pronounced dead at the scene. Her address was on Foster Avenue in Brooklyn, police said.

No criminality was suspected in the Sunday morning accident when the SUV on its way from a Nigerian benefit flipped over, police and family members said.

The SUV was traveling east on Atlantic Avenue around 3:18 a.m. when, after crossing over the Van Wyck Expressway, it slammed into one of the concrete columns supporting the AirTrain track overhead. The SUV flipped over and slid to a halt near a Long Island Rail Road employee parking lot and went up in flames, according to the NYPD.

Victor Lopez was asleep at a friend’s house nearby when he was awakened by the sound of a loud crash and went outside to see what had happened.

“There were bodies all over the place in different positions,” he said. “They were thrown out of the car.”

Lopez said only the vehicle’s driver was wearing her seat belt and still in the SUV when police and firefighters responded. The others were thrown from the vehicle as it landed on the driver’s side.

“There was one body here, one there, one there,” he said later in the day. “Man, there was a lot of blood.”

Atlantic Avenue curves south as it approaches the expressway overpass. The roadway dips down and then curves back north just at the point where the AirTrain column rests a few feet from the street.

A couple of Long Island Rail Road employees said the intersection can be dangerous, and cars trying to beat a yellow light can become airborne because of the dip.

Friends and relatives at Jamaica Hospital later in the day said the family was traveling home from a conference in the borough to benefit the Nigerian town of Arondizuogu.

Larry Alisa, a conference member who traveled to Queens from Connecticut, said some of the car’s occupants were from New York, others were from out of state.

“Everyone in the car was related one way or another,” he said. “We are trying to find out exactly what happened.”

“Right now it’s still kind of sketchy,” he added.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.