NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Justin Harricharran will never forget the night he celebrated his girlfriend’s 21st birthday — the night police say off-duty NYPD Officer Neville Smith got drunk and crashed into them, changing their lives forever.
“It was so quick that in a matter of seconds I felt, we felt a hit, and then I was in the hospital,” he tells CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez.
Harricharran suffered cuts and bruises while sitting in the back seat of the car with his girlfriend, Maria Raghubar, who suffered broken bones and severe internal injuries and remains hospitalized at Jamaica Hospital.
Her sister, 22-year-old Vanessa, was driving — and eventually succumbed to her injuries.
“Vanessa and her were like two peas in a pod,” Harricharran said. “They were best friends and it was a waste of life to see somebody that was going to go so far just not make it to see the end of the days.”
The 32-year-old Smith was arrested for driving while intoxicated, vehicular assault, and refusing a breathalyzer test. He’s been suspended from the department.
Two days have passed since the crash, and the Raghubar and Harricharran families say they’ve not heard one word of comfort from the city.
“I just kind of want somebody from the department to reach out to us,” Harricharran said. “To let us know something will be done and this won’t be in vain.”
“I feel very, very hurt,” Vanessa’s aunt Esther Mongul said. “Because I really think they should’ve reached out to me, the family, her dad. Can you imagine what he’s going through?”
Mongul raised Vanessa since she was a child, and says she can’t understand how a man of the law could have broken it so blatantly.
“He should’ve been more responsible,” she said. “He took my baby away. I’ll never be able to see her, talk to her, hold her; never again.”
Harricharran can only pray his girlfriend will one day be able to celebrate birthdays again.
“You know what hurts? I was able to get out of there,” he said. “But to see her laying in that bed puts me to pieces and I try to hold back my tears just to be strong for everybody. But it’s very hard to see the ones that you love going through all this pain.”
CBS2 reached out to the NYPD and Mayor de Blasio’s office. Both have yet to reply as Officer Smith remains hospitalized at Jamaica Hospital, where Maria Raghubar will undergo her fifth surgery Wednesday.