By Alex Robinson
A 24-year-old driver, involved in a New Year’s Eve crash that killed a Flushing pre-K teacher, allegedly had his license suspended nine times, the Queens district attorney’s office said in court documents.
Anthony Zupnick of Flushing was arrested and charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle after he collided with Annamarie Tromp, 56, at the intersection of 33rd Avenue and 172nd Street shortly after 2:30 p.m. on NewYear’s Eve, the NYPD said.
Zupnick told police he did not see Tromp coming until it was too late and that he was “not paying attention to the speed of his vehicle,” according to the criminal complaint filed by the Queens DA. Zupnick was unable to provide a valid driver’s license to police when they arrived and his license had been suspended nine times on at least five different occasions, according to the complaint, the last time on Nov. 26, 2013.
Tromp was remembered by parents whose children attended her Whitestone school, PS 79, as a beloved teacher who treated all her students as if they were her own children.
“She was such a loving person. She was just a tremendous human being,” said Nick, a Whitestone parent, who would not give his last name and whose children were all taught by Tromp. “She was wonderful. She loved the children as if they were her own. She referred to them as her babies.”
Tromp, a mother of two, lived in Flushing, but taught pre-K at PS 79 at 147-27 15th Drive in Whitestone for years. She also occasionally taught second grade and kindergarten, said Nick. She was the type of teacher students would always return to see years after they had left PS 79, said Nick, whose children are now in high school.
“Ms. Tromp skillfully molded legions of young American children to be stable, fair, well-balanced, caring, hardworking, responsible human beings,” Nick added. “If you ever saw that poster that reads everything you need to know in life you learned in kindergarten, well Ms. Tromp taught it to you.”
Nick, who was outraged that Zupnick was allegedly driving with a suspended license, said he would do everything in his power to see he was held responsible.
“May the PS 79 community stand with her family and go to court and represent Ms. Tromp so that the man who smashed her car is held responsible for his actions. We must be there to see this through,” Nick said. “As a community sometimes you have to stand up. It’s not about revenge, but you have to hold people accountable that blatantly disregard laws.”
Zupnick was arraigned New Year’s Day and will next appear in court Feb. 3.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.