BY SUZANNE MONTEVERDI
A 46-year-old Jackson Heights woman was charged this week with manslaughter, assault and other offenses after allegedly causing a fatal crash in Bayside in July that took the lives of a mother and her two children.
Deborah C. Burns allegedly struck a Toyota Camry carrying a family of five, resulting in the deaths of Bayside resident Susanna Ha, 42, and her daughters Angelica and Michelle Ung, ages 10 and 8, respectively.
“The defendant was allegedly speeding and drove across a double yellow line into the on-coming lane of traffic, when she struck the rear, left side of the Toyota Camry carrying a family of five. Everyone in the backseat of the Camry was tragically killed,” said Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown in a statement Tuesday.
The accident occurred on July 1 along 210th Street near Horace Harding Expressway. According to authorities, Burns claimed that she was driving a Ford Explorer northbound on 210th Street and swerved in reaction to another car which crossed the double yellow line, striking Ha’s Camry.
However, prosecutors noted, video surveillance shows the defendant speeding on the wrong side of the road. An examination of the Ford Explorer’s data recorder indicated that Burns was operating the vehicle at 59 mph — more than twice the speed limit — at the time of the crash. The collision reportedly caused the victim’s Camry to spin out of the control and strike a tree.
A toxicology report of Burns’ blood collected four hours after the incident revealed that she had cocaine in her system, police noted.
“This is another example of how deadly motor vehicles can be and the consequences of climbing behind the wheel of a car and engaging in reckless behavior,” Brown warned.
Burns is currently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on a criminal complaint charging her with three counts each of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, two counts of second-degree assault, and reckless driving. If convicted, the defendant faces up to 15 years in prison.