By Philip Newman
A 59-year-old Richmond Hill motorist driving with a suspended license has been sentenced to up to seven years in prison on manslaughter charges arising from an incident in Ozone Park last year when he sped past a stop sign and smashed into another vehicle, causing the death of a woman and critical injuries to her 9-year -old daughter, the Queens DA said.
District Attorney Richard Brown identified the defendant as Jairam Budhu, of 15th Street in Richmond Hill. Budhu pleaded guilty in July to second-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault before Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Gia Morris.
He was given an indeterminate sentence of 2 1/3 to seven years on the manslaughter charge and a concurrent three-year term on the assault charge to be followed by three years post-release supervision.
Brown said that by pleading guilty, Budhu admitted to the crime. At about 5:06 p.m. on July 17, 2016, Budhu was driving a black 2002 BMW westbound on 115th Street at more than 60 mph in an unposted 25 mph speed zone, according to the Queens DA.
He crossed over double yellow lines into the eastbound lanes, overtaking other vehicles before returning to the westbound lanes of traffic and driving through a stop sign at the intersection of 130th street, the DA said.
At this point Budhu’s car struck the passenger side of a Toyota in which Zaakka Rasool and her 9-year-old daughter were riding. Rasool died in a hospital. Her daughter suffered head trauma and other injuries.
Budhu fled the scene on foot, but two days later at about 8:30 a.m., police responding to a call at 103rd Street found Budhu drinking alcohol on the the front porch, according to Brown. Records indicated Budhu’s driver license was suspended for failure to pay a driver’s responsibility assessment.