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Queens Chronicle

Driver arraigned in Grand Central fatality

Highway worker from LI, 63, killed; NYPD, DA allege drunken driving

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Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 10:47 am, Thu Jul 26, 2012.

A Queens man could face up to 15 years in prison following his arrest on July 9 in an alleged alcohol-related accident that killed a road worker on the Grand Central Parkway.

Munshi Abdullah, 26, of Jamaica, was ordered held on $350,000 bail by Queens Criminal Court Judge Lenora Gerald on July 10.

He has been charged with second-degree manslaughter, second-degree vehicular manslaughter, driving by an unlicensed operator, and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to a statement released by the office of Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Abdullah is accused of striking and killing 63-year-old Frank Avino of Long Island, who was setting up cones at a work site on the Grand Central near Jewel Avenue.

“The defendant is accused of getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol and striking and killing a hardworking family man,” Brown said. “By his alleged actions, the defendant illustrated the lethal consequences resulting from driving while intoxicated.”

Avino, a resident of Ronkonkoma, LI, was in the left westbound lane, working as an electrician for Welsbach Electric Corp., of College Point.

Brown said that according to the charges, Abdullah was speeding in the westbound lefthand lane at about 11 a.m. while Avino was distributing orange traffic cones behind a construction vehicle that displays a flashing arrow to indicate that a lane was closed.

The impact allegedly caused Avino to hit the windshield and then fly into the air before landing on the construction vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene by EMS personnel.

The case is being investigated by the NYPD’s Highway Unit. A statement from Brown’s office alleges that police officers arriving on the scene reported Abdullah to have bloodshot, watery eyes and a strong odor of alcohol on his breath.

An examination of evidence including skid marks at the scene allegedly determined that the Audi was traveling at a minimum of 58 miles per hour at the time of the collision in a 50 mph zone.

The Audi sustained front-end damage and a shattered windshield.

A portable breath test allegedly showed Abdullah to have a blood alcohol reading of .21 percent, or more than four times the legal New York State limit of .05.

Abdullah allegedly told police that he had been drinking from midnight to 3 a.m. on the morning of July 9, and was driving the Audi “because his friends were too drunk to drive.”

Authorities are alleging that Abdullah could not produce a valid New York State driver’s license, and that he flailed his arms in an effort to avoid being handcuffed.

Abdullah is scheduled to appear in court again on July 25.

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