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Jackson Heights Woman Charged With Manslaughter After Car Crash Near School

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Dec. 10, 2015 Staff Report

A Jackson Heights woman has been charged with manslaughter after a car crash in Bayside that killed a mother and her two daughters.

She faces 15 years in prison if convicted.

The fatal collision occurred on 210th Street in Bayside, the same block as a middle school, on July 1 at 6 p.m. According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, Deborah Burns crossed the double yellow line into oncoming traffic and struck the rear, left side of a Toyota Camry, killing everyone in the back seat. The Camry, which contained a family of five, spun out of control and struck a tree.

Burns was driving at 60 mph, according to the vehicle’s black box, which recorded her speed four seconds prior to the crash. The speed limit here was 25 miles per hour, due to the school.

Susanna Ha, 42, and her 10-year-old daughter Angelica Ung, both died within hours of the crash at a nearby hospital. Ha’s eight-year-old daughter Michelle Ung died three days later. Susanna Ha’s father, 74-year-old Young Ju Ha, who was driving the Camry, and her mother, Chung Ock Ha, 67, who was in the front passenger seat, were both severely injured, according to Brown.

“This is another example of how deadly motor vehicles can be and the consequences of climbing behind the wheel of a car and engaging in reckless behavior,” Brown said. “The defendant is now facing a long prison sentence, if convicted.”

Burns is currently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court, where she is charged with three counts each of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, two counts of second-degree assault and reckless driving.

Burns allegedly told the police that she was circling the block to find parking after dropping her children off at a basketball game. She claimed she crossed the yellow line because another driver had done so and made her nervous, but video surveillance allegedly contradicts this story. A toxicology report on the defendant’s blood, taken four hours after the crash, also allegedly showed metabolites of cocaine in her system.

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