You are reading

Bronx woman faces 25 years to life in prison for causing fatal crash while allegedly drag racing on Whitestone Expressway: DA

Aug. 1, 2023 By Bill Parry

A self-described street racer from the Bronx was criminally charged in Queens Supreme Court on Aug. 1 with murder and manslaughter after she caused a high-speed crash that killed an Uber passenger on the Whitestone Expressway alongside Harvey Park in Whitestone in May.

Melissa Rodriguez-Lopez, 28, of Kossuth Avenue was indicted by a Queens grand jury on July 20, was allegedly drag racing at up to 123 miles an hour when she smashed into the Uber.

Rodriguez-Lopez was arraigned on a six-count indictment charging her with murder in the second degree, manslaughter in the second degree, assault in the second degree, leaving the scene of an accident without reporting, assault in the third degree and reckless driving.

According to the charges, at around 3 a.m. on May 27, Rodriguez-Lopez was driving a 2015 Lexus northbound on the Whitestone Expressway with a friend, Marisol Cruz, in the passenger seat. She hit the back of a Toyota Corolla driven by Manishanker Roy, 43, an Uber driver who was transporting Steven Spaulding, 62, of Brooklyn. Records from the Lexus indicate the car, which was registered to Rodriguez-Lopez, was going approximately 123 mph within seconds of the collision and the car’s airbags had deployed. Rodriguez-Lopez left the crash scene without reporting the collision, getting a ride from another drag racer.

Later that morning, Rodriguez-Lopez made a report at the NYPD’s 52nd Precinct that her car had been stolen, but that was disproved by DNA evidence that was gathered during the course of the investigation, the charges state. Body-worn camera footage shows that she had injuries to her arm consistent with an airbag deploying. Cruz sustained injuries to her lower leg and knee.

Roy and Spaulding were taken to New York-Presbyterian Queens hospital in Flushing. Roy had significant injuries to his neck and body and Spaulding had numerous spinal fractures and suffered a stroke following emergency surgery. He died on June 10.

“We will not tolerate the use of our highways as raceways,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said. “This defendant’s alleged selfish actions and reckless disregard for the rules of the road resulted in tragedy. She will be held fully accountable.”

Queens Supreme Court Justice Michael Aloise ordered Rodriguez-Lopez to return to court August 29. If convicted, she faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

Recent News

Preserving Tradition, Embracing Innovation: A Journey through Katz’s Delicatessen

May. 22, 2024 by Jill Carvajal

In this episode of Schneps Connects, we delve into the captivating history and enduring legacy of Katz’s Delicatessen, a cherished institution in New York City since 1888. Jake Dell, the fifth-generation custodian of Katz’s, joins us to recount the deli’s evolution amidst the ever-changing landscape of NYC. From its iconic “Send a Salami to Your Boy in the Army” campaign to the traditional ticket system, Jake shares insights into the family business and invaluable lessons for entrepreneurs, especially in the demanding restaurant industry of NYC. He unveils some of Katz’s secrets, including the meticulous pastrami-making process that sets them apart, and discusses the enduring allure that keeps customers lining up daily. From expanding catering services to international shipping, Jake reflects on the milestones and challenges of running Katz’s, highlighting his proudest achievements and future aspirations. With a nod to its celebrity following and film appearances, Jake offers a glimpse into the deli’s cultural impact and what lies ahead for this beloved New York institution.

Op-Ed | On housing, Ron Kim is all talk, no action

May. 22, 2024 By Yi Andy Chen

Housing affordability is the biggest issue in our state. In Flushing and the surrounding parts of Queens comprising  Assembly District 40, over half of renters are drowning in high rents, yet our current representative, Ron Kim, has done little to alleviate this burden.