A Jackson Heights woman has been indicted on three counts of manslaughter, two counts of assault and other charges related to her allegedly causing the death of a woman and her two daughters and seriously injuring their grandparents in a car crash that happened in Bayside last July, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced Thursday.
“The defendant is accused of driving recklessly and at an excessive rate of speed on a city street and in a school zone, where the speed limit is 25 mph," Brown said in a prepared statement. "This frightening crash could have been even more horrific if students had been present at the time.”
Deborah Burns, 47, of 76th Street in Jackson Heights has been identified as the defendant by the District Attorney's Office. Burns, who was summarily arrested last December and whose bail was continued at $350,000, was arraigned on Wednesday with two counts of second-degree assault, three counts of a criminally negligent homicide and three counts of manslaughter.
Burns was allegedly driving over the speed limit in a 2006 Ford Explorer northbound on 210th Street behind Middle School 74 on July 1 of last year when she went over the double yellow line into traffic, striking a 2005 Toyota Camry being driven by Young Ju Ha of Flushing, the district attorney said. The Explorer's crash data recorder, through analysis, allegedly indicated that the vehicle traveled in excess of 60 miles an hour shortly before the crash and was moving at 59 miles per hour — more than two times the limit when it hit the Camry.
Susaana Ha, 42 and her 10-year-old daughter Angelica Ung, both died at a nearby hospital within hours of the crash, Brown's office said. Three days after the crash, Ha's 8-year-old daughter, Michelle Ung, died and Ha's parents — Chung Ock Ha, 67, and Young Ju Ha, 74 — were severely hurt in the crash.
Burns told the NYPD that she was looking for a space to park after dropping off her children at the basketball game, according to the charges, Brown said. Allegedly, the defendant said that she was driving 40 miles per hour when the double yellow line was crossed by the other driver and she nervously swerved into the car's side. However, video surveillance of the crash allegedly shows that the defendant was driving on the wrong side of the road at a dangerous speed.
"The defendant was allegedly speeding and drove across a double yellow line into the oncoming lane of traffic when she struck the rear of a Toyota Camry carrying a family of five," Brown added. "Everyone in the backseat of the Camry was tragically killed. This is another example of how deadly motor vehicles can be and the consequences of climbing behind the wheel of a car and engaging in reckless behavior."
Burns was ordered to return to court on June 22.