NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was disbelief in sorrow late Wednesday after a woman was killed by a wrong-way driver during a police pursuit on the Henry Hudson Parkway.
As CBS2’s Steve Langford reported, the woman was in a sedan on the highway overnight, when the stolen minivan came barreling up from the opposite direction.
The chain of events started more than 60 blocks away when officers tried to stop the van around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday near Eighth Avenue and 17th Street in Chelsea for a making an improper turn. But police said the driver had another idea and headed onto the West Side Highway.
“The fact that someone would steal a car to begin with, and then to go and endanger so many people lives – it’s horrible,” one woman said.
Initially, the van was in the northbound lanes as police said they followed behind without sirens, but at some point, the driver crossed over into the southbound lanes around 56th Street, and began driving the wrong way up the highway on an uphill stretch.
“Nothing is worth trying to escape risking your life to kill somebody else,” a man said. “I mean, it’s insane.”
Everything came to a crashing halt when police said the van collided into a sedan just south of 79th Street on the Henry Hudson Parkway. The impact destroyed the front ends of both vehicles and left debris scattered across the roadway.
The driver of the car, a 53-year-old man, was taken to the hospital in stable condition. His passenger, identified as 54-year-old Olga Ilina from Fair Lawn, New Jersey, was critically hurt and later died, police said.
The 23-year-old driver of the van and his 34-year-old male passenger were also hurt – one with two broken legs, the other with a dislocated knee. Both were taken into custody, and late Wednesday, the driver was charged.
Jean Herrera of Washington Heights was charged with manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment, reckless driving, aggravated driving without a license, a license plate violation, and leaving the scene of an accident, police said.
Meanwhile, the mere mention of a wrong way driver racing toward you at night, a haunting thought to motorists.
“This could happen to anybody anytime,” a man said.
The investigation is ongoing.