By Bill Parry
The driver who crashed his car on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and left an Astoria woman in the passenger seat to perish in the flames was sent to jail for many years on Jan. 9.
Saeed Ahmad, 24, of Marine Park in Brooklyn, was sentenced by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice to an indeterminate term of four to 12 years in prison after Ahmad pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter on November 27, 2018.
Harleen Grewal, 25, was a passenger in the 2007 Infiniti G35 that Ahmad was operating at 4 a.m. on Oct. 13, 2017, after spending a night out in Manhattan.
Prosecutors said the defendant was driving at an excessive rate of speed, attempted to pass other vehicles and crashed into a side barrier between the Hamilton Avenue and Prospect Expressway exits, causing it to explode and burst into flames, the evidence showed.
Ahmad got out of the burning car and left without calling 911 or alerting anyone that the victim was still in the vehicle. Grewal died and her remains were recovered from the scene after the FDNY put out the fire.
Ahmad 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, according to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office.
“The defendant’s senseless and reckless actions caused the death of a young woman who had her entire life ahead of her,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said. “He showed complete disregard for human life and for the safety of everyone using our roadways. Hopefully, the victim’s heartbroken family will find some solace with today’s sentencing.”
Grewall worked at the clothing brand BCBG Max Azaria. The case made headlines around the world after cellphone video showed Ahmad walking from the burning wreckage of his car to hail a yellow taxi and leave the scene.
Ahmad claimed he tried to free Grewall from the car but she was unconscious and the flames engulfed the vehicle too quickly burning his arms and legs.
“I didn’t mean for anyone to get hurt,” Ahmad told Justice Del Guidice during his plea hearing. “She was my friend. “
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr