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Franklin Square crash: Man held without bail after taxi driver killed

Court records show the blood-alcohol level of Duke

Court records show the blood-alcohol level of Duke Obule, 23, of Queens, right, was twice the legal limit when police say he crashed into a taxicab in Franklin Square early Saturday, killing the driver. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Queens man accused of driving drunk and plowing into a taxi cab in Franklin Square at a high rate of speed Saturday pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Sunday morning.

Duke Obule, 23, was held without bail by Judge Joy Watson in First District Court in Hempstead.

Police said Obule was speeding on Hempstead Turnpike in a 2016 white BMW about 4:15 a.m. Saturday when he struck a 2009 Chevrolet taxi, driven by the 47-year-old victim from Elmont, police said.

Obule is unlicensed and was charged with manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and other offenses, Nassau County police said Saturday.

Prosecutors had asked for $1 million bail, while his private Bay Shore-based attorney, Jason L. Russo, argued that amount was unreasonable. Obule is due in Part 9 court May 4 in Mineola.

Police said Obule had a blood-alcohol level of .16, twice the legal standard for intoxication, at 5:15 a.m. Saturday, about 45 minutes after the crash, court papers show. He had glassy eyes, slurred speech and smelled of alcohol as he spoke with officers, court papers read. Obule had blood on his teeth and socks.

He was charged with second-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault, second-degree vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of a deadly accident and second-degree vehicular assault.

Prosecutors said Obule has an outstanding municipal warrant in Long Beach. He is scheduled for court there April 25.

A half-dozen family members showed up to court on Obule’s behalf. They declined to comment, but Russo said: “The family is very concerned for him and the individual who lost his life.”

Obule ran away after the crash, leaving his injured female passenger, 24, behind, police said. She suffered a fractured left ankle in the crash and was taken to a hospital.

The impact of the Saturday crash sent the taxi, going east in the left-hand lane, across two westbound lanes and onto the sidewalk at Lincoln Road, slamming into a utility pole, police said.

Obule, of 188th Street in Cambria Heights, was caught about an hour later, at 5:22 a.m., nearly a mile away at Hempstead Turnpike and Evans Avenue in Elmont.

Russo said Obule was driving in heavy rain and bad road conditions. He said his client took a breathalyzer test and gave a blood sample. The results haven’t come back yet.

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