By Bill Parry
The Brooklyn man who left a 25-year-old Astoria woman to die in a fiery car crash in the early morning hours of Oct. 13 has been charged in her murder and locked up without bail, the Brooklyn DA’s office said.
Saeed Ahmad, 23, of Marine Park, pleaded not guilty in Brooklyn Supreme Court in front of Justice Neil Firetog and could face up to 25 years in jail if convicted of depraved indifference murder, vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident, driving while intoxicated and other related charges for allegedly causing a car crash on the Gowanus Expressway and fleeing the scene with Harleen Grewal stranded inside the burning car, according to Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.
Ahmad was escorted into the courtroom wearing a floor-length hospital gown with burns on both elbows and across the back of his neck. He was in handcuffs during his arraignment.
The defendant was driving an Infinity G35 sedan at an excessive rate of speed around 4 a.m., returning from a night out in Manhattan with Grewal in the passenger seat, when he attempted to pass other vehicles and crashed his car into a side barrier between the Hamilton Avenue and Prospect Expressway exits, causing it to explode and burst into flames, prosecutors said. Ahmad got out of the burning car, jumped into a cab and left without calling 911 or alerting anyone that the victim was still in the vehicle, according to the authorities. Grewal subsequently died and her remains were recovered from the scene after the fire was put out, according to the Brooklyn DA’s office.
The defendant was arrested later that morning and tests determined that his blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was above the legal limit of .08, prosecutors said. Ahmad said he had consumed five scotch whiskey and Red Bull drinks prior to driving, according to the criminal complaint filed by the DA.
“The defendant’s alleged actions before and after crashing his car caused the death of a vibrant young woman who had her entire life ahead of her,” Gonzalez said. “He showed complete disregard for human life and for the safety of everyone using our roadways, making the various charges he now faces wholly appropriate.”
Ahmad was ordered held without bail by Firetog and to return to court Jan. 12.
Cellphone images obtained by ABC 7 shows the car in flames as Ahmad walks away from the crash and hailing a nearby cab. “Can I get a ride?” he can be heard asking the taxi driver. He had been hospitalized in Staten Island University Hospital’s burn unit since Oct. 14.
Grewal worked at global fashion house BCBG Max Azaria.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr