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Queens Chronicle

Mom of Steinway Creek victim to sue

Lawyers investigating driver and city to determine if someone is at fault

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Posted: Thursday, April 24, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 10:57 am, Thu May 1, 2014.

Though the waters have stilled, tension remains at a boil after four young adults drowned when their car plunged into Luyster Creek, also known as Steinway Creek, in Astoria. 

Velma Elliot, victim Darius Fletcher’s mother, plans to meet this month with prosecutors from the Queens District Attorney’s Office.

The lawyers are investigating driver Andrew Gramm — who made it out of the car alive — to determine if the 19-year-old should be criminally charged for the crash on April 4.

A representative from the district attorney’s office said no charges have been brought against Gramm but an investigation is continuing.

According to police, Gramm was driving the group home after celebrating victim Crystal Gravely’s birthday at Buffalo Wild Wings.

She would have turned 20 last week.

As they drove along 19th Avenue, traveling west, there came a point when Gramm allegedly lost control and the car careened into the water.

The teenager made his way to shore and called 911, according to police.

Friends and family began visiting the site where the four young adults died to pay their respects. Candles, flowers and even a basketball were placed at the end of the road.

According to the Daily News, Gramm, who was not drinking that night, was driving too fast for the wet conditions when his Honda skidded sideways on the dead-end street and dove into Steinway Creek.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) released a statement almost immediately after the crash, requesting the Department of Transportation review the area.

“DOT must make our streets safer by reviewing all roads leading to waterways as there may be similar dangers in other neighborhoods throughout our city,” Gianaris said in the statement. “This accident was avoidable and something must be done to keep people safe as they drive, walk or cycle on our roadways.”

Though there was a sign reading “End” and a chainlink fence on the street, there is no guardrail where the street ends. The city did plant a concrete barrier the day after the crash.

A notice of claim to sue has yet to be filed but reportedly, lawyers are waiting for Elliot to be approved as the administrator for her son’s estate by the Surrogate Court.

She told the Daily News that she was not actively trying to get Gramm into trouble but said if the DA determines he is criminally liable, she wanted the court system to handle it.

It is unclear if the DOT has begun surveying the area to determine if the fence was enough of a barrier and if the city had done everything it could to make the dead end as clear and safe as possible.

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