A Maspeth man has been sentenced for killing a Woodside pedestrian in a series of drunk driving crashes in 2019, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Jorge Samaniego, 52, of Hull Avenue pleaded guilty last August to aggravated vehicular homicide before Queens Supreme Court Justice Gene Lopez. He was sentenced to five to 15 years in prison on Monday, Oct. 4.
According to Katz, shortly before 8 p.m. on Dec. 11, 2019, near Broadway and 55th Street, Samaniego was driving a Honda Odyssey minivan and rear-ended a red Infiniti as the driver was approaching a red light. The driver of the Infiniti got out of his car to survey the damage and asked Samaniego if he was OK.
Without saying a word, Samaniego drove away from the scene, according to the charges.
He then drove erratically on Broadway to 60th Street, went through a red light, and struck Woodside resident Alberto Zamacona, 47, in the crosswalk and kept driving. At 61st Street, Samaniego veered into oncoming traffic to avoid slamming into a car stopped at a red light, according to Katz.
The minivan then struck a taxi head-on with so much force the vehicle was pushed backward and struck a Toyota Sienna, which in turn hit a Jeep Grand Cherokee.
According to the complaint, Zamacona was rushed to Elmhurst Hospital, where he later died with irreversible brain damage.
The chain-reaction crash caused damage to the three vehicles and one of the drivers needed medical attention for non-life-threatening injuries.
The DA said when police responded to the scene, they found Samaniego exhibiting signs of intoxication including bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and smelling of alcohol. He was taken to a nearby police precinct where a test showed he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.187%, which is above the legal limit of 0.08%.
“The sentence imposed yesterday by the court punishes the defendant for taking a life after getting behind the wheel of a car while drunk,” Katz said Tuesday. “No one has the right to be this reckless.”