Doctors amputate leg of off-duty FDNY EMT struck with stolen car
The 29-year-old victim remains in critical condition
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Doctors had to amputate the right leg of an off-duty EMT struck by a stolen car allegedly driven by an unlicensed driver in a horrific crash in New Dorp on Thursday, a prosecutor said in court on Friday.
The victim, who prosecutors allege was mowed down by Nicole Marino, 31, on the 100 block of Locust Avenue, is in critical condition in the hospital, Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Agostino said at Marino's arraignment Friday in Criminal Court on first-degree assault and other charges.
The 29-year-old victim, who was on foot and attempting to enter a car, also suffered a pelvic fracture and a fractured right arm, said Agostino.
Besides first-degree assault, Marino, a New Dorp resident, was charged with second-degree assault, aggravated unlicensed driving, obstructing governmental administration, falsely reporting information to law enforcement, and criminal possession of a controlled substance.
She's also accused of grand larceny, unauthorized vehicle use and criminal possession of stolen property.
Agostino said the defendant stole the car owned by her mother, whom she lives with.
A criminal complaint said cops found six small bags of heroin on Marino's person. However, she is not charged with driving under the influence of drugs.
"This case is massively overcharged," defense counsel Stephanie Pope told the court. "This was a tragic accident. A violent felony (first-degree assault) is an intentional case of wrongdoing, not an accident. ... Our hearts and thoughts go out to the complainant."
Pope also challenged the theft charges, saying Marino's mother would not press them and intended to post the defendant's bail.
The lawyer said Marino had taken the car key off of a ring to which she had access in the house so she could drive to an emergency.
She did not say what the emergency was.
Agostino countered that Marino's mother said the defendant stole her car.
Judge Biju Koshy set bail at Agostino's request at $150,000 bond or $75,000 cash.
Marino has a prior felony conviction for aggravated unlicensed driving and had been sentenced to five years' probation, Koshy noted. And prosecutors allege she initially lied to police and said another person was driving the car.
The case was adjourned to Wednesday.
Marino, who was garbed in a pink-and-white hoodie and dark pants, spoke only once during the proceeding.
She said, "Yes, I understand," when Koshy explained that she can have no contact with her mother under a protective order he issued.
Police said the events unfolded at around 12:30 p.m.
Officers responded to a call of a motor vehicle collision involving a pedestrian on the 100 block of Locust Avenue.
Police said the NYPD Highway District's Collision Investigation Squad determined that a 2006 Chevy Impala allegedly driven by Marino was traveling southbound on North Railroad Avenue. Just past the intersection of Locust Avenue, the vehicle struck the EMT, a pedestrian who was attempting to enter a 2021 Mazda CX30, said police.
The impact propelled the victim onto the hood and windshield of the Chevy before she fell onto the roadway. The Chevy then struck a parked, unoccupied 2020 Volvo XC60, police said.
The incident remains under investigation.
The crash was initially thought to be a hit-and-run incident.
Although Marino remained on the scene, she was uncooperative and allegedly attempted to avoid being detected as the driver responsible for the crash, a source with knowledge of the case told the Advance/SILive.com.
Agostino said the defendant initially told cops her niece was driving the car and fled after the wreck.
However, when further questioned by police, she later "made a full confession as to driving the vehicle," said Agostino.
According to the criminal complaint, the defendant said: "(Another person) overdosed, so I had to drive. Yes, it was me driving. It was my first time stealing a car. I took the key off of my mother's key ring."
Pope, the defense lawyer, said Marino passed an initial intoxication test and later voluntarily submitted to a blood test.
The defendant was arrested Thursday night.
The incident prompted a massive NYPD response that included a helicopter and canine unit. Police officers roped off Locust Avenue near North Railroad Avenue, where several cars could be seen with damage, as they investigated the incident.
"I heard the crash, and then I heard the screaming, there was a woman screaming — it was bloodcurdling," said area resident Maria Marti. She wasn't sure if the woman she heard screaming was the victim or another individual.
Marti said she saw a good Samaritan, a woman, trying to help the EMT and holding the victim's hand.
"I heard the bang, I flew out of here," said a man who lives in the area. "I heard screaming, saw the girl and dialed 911."
Among those initially called to the scene were the NYPD's Collision Investigation Squad, which typically probes crashes with serious injuries, and the Emergency Service Unit.
A helicopter was hovering over the area and an NYPD canine unit was also at the location.
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