News & Politics

Police: Drunk, Hit-and-Run Drivers Killed Three New Yorkers This Weekend

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Two hit-and-run drivers and two drunk drivers — including an off-duty NYPD officer — killed a total of three New Yorkers and seriously injured at least eleven others over the weekend, according to police reports.

The first crash occurred in Williamsburg, at around 3 a.m. on Saturday, when police say off-duty NYPD officer Nicholas Batka drove his SUV onto the sidewalk on Bedford Avenue near North 8th Street, striking four pedestrians, including 21-year-old Andrew Esquivel, an MIT student in town for an internship. Esquivel was pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital. A 20-year-old woman, a 23-year-old woman, and a 24-year-old man also suffered severe injuries. Esquivel’s high school wrestling coach described him to the Daily News as “the greatest kid in the world.”

Witnesses told the Post and the Times that Batka was speeding before the crash and tried to flee the scene before bystanders prevented him from leaving. Batka was due to report for duty at 7 a.m.

Baka has been charged with manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, three counts of assault, DWI, and driving on the sidewalk.

At around 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, police say the driver of a dark four-door Chrysler 300 struck a 29-year-old riding his scooter on Nostrand Avenue near Lincoln Place. The 29-year-old was taken to Kings County Hospital in critical condition, while the driver fled the scene.

On Sunday, police say the speeding driver of a 2002 BMW X5 SUV ignored a stop sign in Queens and crashed into a Toyota Corolla, killing one of the Corolla’s passengers and injuring a 9-year-old girl.

According to an NYPD release, the BMW driver blew the stop sign at 115th Avenue near 130th Street in South Ozone Park a little after 5 p.m. when they struck the Corolla, which caused the 9-year-old girl and 40-year-old Zaalika Rasool to be ejected from the back seat. Rasool was pronounced dead at the scene, while the 9-year-old was transported to Jamaica Hospital in critical condition. The Corolla’s driver and a 71-year-old passenger also suffered injuries.

Police say the BMW driver hit three other parked vehicles after striking the Corolla and then fled on foot. A 46-year-old passenger from the BMW was also treated for injuries.

At around 8:45 p.m. on Sunday, police say that a drunk driver struck and killed a teenage cyclist in Gerritsen Beach.

Thomas Groarke, 24, was arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter and DWI for driving his Honda Accord into the median on Gerritsen Avenue, fatally striking 17-year-old Sean Ryan, who was riding his bike in the median a half-mile from his home. The FDNY said three others were injured in the crash.

The NYPD is asking anyone with information on these hit-and-run crashes, or the driver who intentionally killed cyclist Matthew von Ohlen earlier this month, to contact Crime Stoppers.

There were 19,911 car crashes in New York City in May, the last month for which data is available. The NYPD currently has fewer than thirty crash investigators working in the Highway Division’s Collision Investigation Squad.

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