The drunk driver who killed a 47-year-old pedestrian in Woodside in December 2019 was sentenced to five to 15 years in prison on Monday.

Jorge Samaniego, 52, of Maspeth, was sentenced by Queens Supreme Court Justice Gene Lopez. He pleaded guilty back in August to aggravated vehicular homicide in the hit-and-run death of Alberto Zamacona, a Woodside resident.

In a press release issued Monday, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said Zamacona was killed during a string of crashes caused by Samaniego.

“The sentence imposed yesterday by the Court punishes the defendant for taking a life after getting behind the wheel of a car while drunk,” she said. “No one has the right to be this reckless.”

Katz said Samaniego was driving a Honda Odyssey minivan near Broadway and 55th Street at about 8 p.m. on Dec. 11 when he rear-ended a Red Infiniti as the other driver was approaching a light. The driver got out of the Infiniti to check the damage and ask Samaniego if he was OK, only to have him flee the scene without a word.

He was driving erratically along Broadway while heading toward 60th Street when he ran a red light and struck Zamacona in the crosswalk, leaving him behind as he continued to flee.

At 61st Street Samaniego veered into oncoming traffic to avoid a car stopped at the traffic light. He collided with an oncoming taxi with so much force it started a chain reaction, with the taxi being knocked backward into a Toyota Sienna, which in turn struck a Jeep Grand Chrokee.

Zamacona was taken to an area hospital suffering from irreversible brain damage. He later died from his injuries. One of the drivers he struck required treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

Police responding to the scene found Samaniego smelling of alcohol and displaying signs of intoxication, including bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. Taken to a nearby police station, his blood alcohol content registered .187, more than twice the level required for a drunk driving charge and more than three times the level needed to charge a driver with driving with ability impaired.


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