By Mark Hallum
A 46-year-old Oakland Gardens man has been charged in the death of a Flushing resident Monday, the Queens district attorney said.
Wesley Leung is facing at vehicular manslaughter and driving while impaired charges after his car struck Jinhe Niu, 67. The incident occurred on Monday, the victim’s birthday.
Police from the 109th Precinct responded to a report of a motor vehicle accident involving a pedestrian near 149th Street and 46th Avenue at about 8:30 p.m. Officers found Niu lying unconscious with signs of trauma to his head. EMS arrived on scene and transported the victim to Flushing Hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.
“My office has zero tolerance when it comes to individuals getting behind the wheel while their ability to drive is impaired by alcohol and/or drugs,” District Attorney Richard Brown said “In this case, the defendant is accused of fatally striking a pedestrian while his driving ability was impaired. He now faces felony and other criminal charges because of his alleged actions.”
Leung remained at the scene following the accident and was taken into custody, according to the NYPD. A preliminary investigation determined Leung’s silver Ford Explorer was traveling eastbound on 46th Avenue when he struck Niu, who was attempting to cross the road, mid-block. Leung was originally charged with operating a motor vehicle impaired by drugs, police said Monday.
But Leung was arraigned Tuesday in front of Queens Criminal Court Judge Eugene Guarino, who drew him up on second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and driving while his ability was impaired by a combined influence of drugs or alcohol.
A field sobriety test showed Leung had a blood alcohol content of .037, below the legal limit of 0.8 in New York, Brown said. But a Drager drug test allegedly revealed Leung had THC-5 in his system, the active chemical agent in marijuana, according to the DA.
Leung now faces seven years in prison, with $150,000 bond or $75,000 cash, and will return to court June 28.
A Jackson Heights woman was convicted last week of manslaughter and assault stemming from a July 2015 motor vehicle accident in an Oakland Gardens school zone that caused the deaths of three family members and severely injured two others, the Queens DA said.
According to the “black box” data recorder in the woman’s 2006 Ford Explorer, Deborah Burns, 48, was driving over 60 mph northbound on 210th Street as she passed MS 74 near Cunningham Park when her car merged into oncoming traffic, the DA said. She collided with another vehicle, killing a mother and her two children while injuring the woman’s elderly mother and father.
She is expected to face 15 years behind bars at sentencing, the DA said.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall