47-year-old driver charged in Staten Island crash that killed 3 teens

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Tuesday, July 12, 2022
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Three teenagers in a red Ford Mustang were killed when their car collided with a turning SUV on Staten Island Sunday night. Lucy Yang has the latest details.

TOTTENVILLE, Staten Island (WABC) -- A 47-year-old driver has been charged in a deadly crash on Staten Island that killed three teenagers Sunday night.

Maher Asi-Mahmoud, 47, of Marlboro, New Jersey, was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and operation of a motor vehicle by an unlicensed driver.

It comes after three teenagers in a red Ford Mustang were killed when their car collided with a turning SUV on Staten Island Sunday night.

It happened on Hylan Boulevard at Richard Avenue in Tottenville at 8:45 p.m.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams visited the scene overnight Sunday as the investigation unfolded.

"It's heartbreaking whenever we lose someone in a crash, but it's especially tragic when it's young lives lost," Adams said Monday morning. "I was on the scene last night, and the pain was palpable. My heart goes out to the families."

The 16-year-old Mustang driver was the only occupant of the vehicle to survive the crash. He is currently at Staten Island University Hospital North.

His three passengers -- identified 16-year-old Fernanda Gil, 15-year-old Jesie Gil and 15-year-old Ashley Rodriguez -- were pronounced dead at the scene.

The Mustang was westbound on Hylan Boulevard when it collided with an eastbound black 2017 GMC Yukon, driven by Asi-Mahmoud, making a left turn onto Richard Avenue.

The force of the collision split the Mustang in half, and two of the victims were ejected.

School bus driver Nelson Mendez said he will never forget what he witnessed.

"I heard a loud boom," he said. "I ran out. There was a body in the middle of the divider, a body on this side of Hyland Boulevard behind my neighbor's backyard, and two other kids were stuck in the other half of the Mustang."

The driver of the Mustang was hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

As many as four people were in the SUV. All are expected to survive.

At the time, Asi-Mahmoud was taken into custody for driving with a suspended license.

Mourners brought flowers, candles and broken hearts Monday night on Hylan Boulevard.

Evangeline Santiago lost her best friend in Gil. She said they had been friends since 4 years old.

"I was always at her house. She was at mine. We went here and there together. We always dragged her brother along," Santiago said.

The NYPD Highway Patrol is now investigating the crash, though authorities say there is little doubt that speeding was a factor.

DOT Commissioner Yydanis Rodriguez said it appeared the Mustang was speeding and also that some of the occupants were not wearing seat belts.

Neighbors tell Eyewitness News the city recently dropped the speed limit in this area from 45 to 30.

Now, they are hoping for more changes.

"There's been cops here before, trying to stop it, but once they remove everything, they start again," area resident Nelson Mendez said. "So let's see what happens with this. Maybe they'll post a light."

Rodriguez said the DOT will be removing a travel lane and adding left turn lanes and a bike lane to Hylan Boulevard in the area in an effort to make it safer.

New York state law prohibits teen drivers from riding with more than one person under the age of 21.

MORE NEWS: NYC health officials urge return to indoor masking

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