May 17, By Christian Murray
A 48-year-old Jackson Heights woman was convicted of manslaughter today for a deadly car crash that killed a mother and her two pre-teen daughters.
Deborah Burns, of 76th Street, was found guilty after testimony revealed that she had driven recklessly through a 25 mph school zone in Bayside causing the fatal crash. She was convicted of three counts of second-degree manslaughter by a jury after an 8-day trial. Burns faces up to 15 years in prison when she sentenced.
“A jury listened to all the evidence and found the defendant guilty of causing a deadly collision that claimed the life of a woman and her two children,” said District Attorney Richard Brown. “The defendant’s actions caused immeasurable agony to the victim’s family.”
Burns, according to court testimony, drove her 2006 Ford Explorer at speed northbound on 210th Street on July 1, 2015, and crossed the double yellow line veering into oncoming traffic.
Burns’ vehicle struck a 2005 Toyota Camry, which spun out of control and thumped into a tree.
The Camry was driven by 75-year-old Young Ju Ha. All three passengers in the back seat of the vehicle, which consisted of Susanna Ha and her two daughters, were killed. The passenger in the front seat was severely injured as was the driver.
Investigators conducted an analysis of the Explorer’s crash data recorder, which indicated that Burns was traveling in excess of 60 mph—in a 25 mph zone– just moments before the crash.
Burns told police that she was driving at 40 mph and that it was it was Ha who crossed the double yellow line.
However, video surveillance of the collision showed Burns driving at an unsafe speed and on the wrong side of the road.
Burns is scheduled to be sentence June 15.