Suzanne Nicholson and her 11-year-old grandson, Gabriel Larsen, were taking the taxi from John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens to Manhattan start a trip arranged to celebrate his recent birthday, said her husband, Dewayne Nicholson.
The grandmother and boy were to meet her best friend and the friend's grandson on the vacation, with plans including New York Yankees games, a foray to Central Park and other diversions, Nicholson said.
"She was making it his birthday present...She loved New York and wanted to take him there," he said by phone Saturday evening from his home in Ogden, Utah, as his grandson recuperated in a New York hospital with his parents by his side.
Traveling west on the wet Long Island Expressway around 12:30 a.m., the taxi hit the back of a sports car, rolled into the highway's right lane and then was crushed by a garbage truck that couldn't stop in time, police said.
The impact killed cab driver Mohamed Hussain, 46, of Queens and Suzanne Nicholson, 60. Known as Suzi, she worked as a secretary in the geosciences department at Weber State University in Ogden, about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City.
A possible telephone number for Hussain's family rang unanswered Saturday evening.
Gabriel, whose family lives in suburban Ogden, suffered broken bones and other injuries but was expected to recover, his grandfather said. The boy was well enough to talk to his parents when they arrived after rushing from Utah, said Dewayne Nicholson, who goes by Dewey.
"He's our top priority right now because there's not much we can do for grandma," he said. "We're just hoping and praying for him. We hope everyone else will be all right."
The sports car rolled over, but no one in it or truck needed hospitalization, police said. They were investigating the crash but said so far they didn't suspect anyone of a crime.
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