Oh my God. This is heartbreaking!! In this report by New York Daily News, the just concluded Arondizuogu Convention held in New York ended with a very sad note. A fatal motor vehicle accident left 5 people dead included two young children.
This is how the story was reported:
Five people were killed, including two children, after leaving a Nigerian heritage celebration in Queens early Sunday when their speeding SUV, swerving after blowing through two red lights, slammed into a concrete pillar, rolled over and burst into flames, police and witnesses said.
The dead included Nnenna Obioha, 57, of Michigan, who helped organize the convention and was the founding president of immigrant group Arondizuogu Daughters Association, relatives said. Emergency workers said the crash of the black Mercedes-Benz SUV was one of the most horrific wrecks in recent memory.
“This is the worst single-car accident I’ve gone to in my career,” said Chief Stephen Browne, a 26-year FDNY veteran. “To see this much human life devastation in a single-car accident on a side street is not normal.”
The 45-year-old driver, whose name was not released but who hails from the Bronx, was barreling east on Atlantic Ave. when she slammed into one of the pillars that support the AirTrain to Kennedy Airport.
Firefighters went to work extricating three victims with the Jaws of Life while simultaneously putting out the engine fire. They pulled two boys, ages 7 and 9, from the rear window of the burning SUV, but a 9-year-old boy died at the scene. An 8-year-old girl who was thrown from the vehicle was found dead on the ground about 10 feet from the SUV.
Three women died in the crash. One woman was found dead still wearing her seat belt in the front passenger seat. Another victim was thrown from the SUV and pinned underneath it, officials said. Many of the eight passengers did not appear to be wearing seat belts, officials said, and the SUV is designed to carry no more than seven people.
There were no immediate charges against the driver, who had a clean and valid license, cops said.
The driver, her 7-year-old son and a 26-year-old man who ended up outside the vehicle survived the crash and were taken to Jamaica Hospital in stable condition.
The driver was in emergency surgery Sunday afternoon, while the man was set to be released, a hospital spokesman said. The boy was being treated in the pediatric emergency room.
A motorist traveling north on the service road of the Van Wyck Expressway said he had a green light and was crossing the intersection at Atlantic Ave. when the 2008 SUV nearly hit him.
“All I saw was headlights,” said Ryan Jardine, 24. “She ran the light, almost hit us and then hit the pole. She swerved to avoid impacting us. We saw the car just hit the pole, and it went into a somersault. It just started flipping. It was horrible.”
The victims had just left a party at the Golden Terrace banquet hall on Atlantic Ave. in Richmond Hill celebrating the conclusion of the two-day annual convention of immigrants from the Nigerian town of Arondizuogu.
“The convention was supposed to bring us together — not end in tragedy,” said Anthony Nwankwo, 49, of Houston, who attended the festival.
Alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the crash.
The victims, who are all related, were heading to a home in the Bronx to sleep, relatives said.
“Nobody’s coping,” association President Obioha’s cousin Evelyn Anyaogu, 68, said of the tragedy. “It’s not one dead. It’s not two, three, four (but) five.”
Our heart goes out to the victims and their families.