Two dead in Queens livery cab crash

November 17, 2008 3:26:35 PM PST
Two women are dead after riding in a livery cab that was struck by an SUV whose driver was arrested for suspicion of drunken driving. The accident happened shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday in the Astoria section of Queens.

Police said a white Range Rover was going west on 31st Avenue when it collided with the cab going south on 34th Street.

The cab's driver, 41-year-old Bessy Velasquez, and the passenger, 30-year-old Panayiota Demetriou, were pronounced dead at Astoria General Hospital.

The driver of the Range Rover, 24-year-old Daryush Omar of Plainview, Long Island, was arrested on charges including vehicular manslaughter, criminially negligent homicide, driving while intoxicated and driving with a suspended license.

Omar had also been arrested on murder and robbery charges back in 2006 and was awaiting trial on those charges.

Police say his blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit at the time of Sunday's crash.

"My mom was my hero, and now look," said 17-year-old Bessy Velasquez, the victim's daughter.

There are flowers and candles by her doorstep and a contribution box by her mom's desk.

Omar was arrested in the 2006 death of Thomas Whitney Jr. Whitney, a Prudential analyst, had supposedly asked Omar for directions when Omar allegedly beat him with a steel pipe.

Surveillance video later showed the suspect allegedly using Whitney's credit cards in a shopping spree.

Omar goes back to court Dec. 12th for the Whitney case.


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