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Driver in DWI fatal crash sentenced to 8 months in jail

Silvia Ibanez leaves the Nassau County Courthouse after

Silvia Ibanez leaves the Nassau County Courthouse after being sentenced on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Queens woman who admitted she was drunk when her sport utility vehicle fatally injured a cabbie backing up on the Northern State Parkway apologized Wednesday for what she called the “worst decision” of her life before heading to jail for eight months.

“I should never have had a drink and drove my car,” Silvia Ibanez, 44, of Arverne, said in Nassau County Court.

She added that she hoped the victim’s family would be able to find peace despite their loss.

“I can never apologize enough,” Ibanez said.

The nurse’s aide pleaded guilty in October to vehicular manslaughter and drunken-driving charges and surrendered then to start serving time behind bars.

Nassau Supervising Judge Christopher Quinn meted out her jail sentence Wednesday, along with 5 years of probation, under terms of a commitment he made at the time of Ibanez’s plea.

Nassau Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Dellinger asked Wednesday for Ibanez to get a sentence of 1 1⁄3 to 4 years in prison and said her blood alcohol content was 0.15 percent after the crash — above the 0.08 percent legal threshold for intoxication.

The prosecutor added that while victim Juan Espinal Collado, 61, of Washington Heights, took actions that “partially resulted in his own death,” Ibanez’s actions forged “a link in the chain of events” that led to the fatality.

But defense attorney Brian Griffin asked the judge for leniency, calling his client an “otherwise stellar person” who fully accepted responsibility for her decision to drive drunk. He also said the crash wouldn’t have happened if the victim hadn’t backed up on the parkway.

“We ask for mercy based upon the life she has lived. We ask for justice based upon the facts and circumstances of this accident,” the Garden City lawyer said.

The 10:15 p.m. collision on July 25, 2016, in Old Westbury that killed the Manhattan man happened on the parkway’s westbound side, just west of the exit for the Long Island Expressway.

Ibanez, who was behind the wheel of a 2010 Toyota RAV4, rear-ended the taxi driver’s 2013 Toyota Camry, according to court records. She later told police she didn’t know what caused the crash and was driving when she heard a loud boom and her air bags went off.

Collado had no pulse when he arrived at a nearby hospital, and died of blunt force injuries to his head, neck and torso, records show.

Collado’s family wasn’t in court Wednesday and relatives, including a daughter who was living in Florida at the time of the crash, couldn’t be reached by phone.

After the crash, a witness told State Police she saw a sedan with its hazard lights on going in reverse on the shoulder, and she changed lanes because she feared the car would come into the right lane and hit her.

The witness said she then looked in her rearview mirror and saw an SUV rear-end the sedan that was reversing, making the sedan roll over.

State Police noted in the incident report Collado had been backing up unsafely and listed the action as an apparent contributing factor to the crash.

Ibanez, who suffered a ruptured bladder in the crash, told police she’d had three glasses of wine at a friend’s house between 4 and 9 p.m. and was heading to Port Washington after dropping off a friend in Island Park.

District attorney’s office spokesman Brendan Brosh released a statement Wednesday saying prosecutors extended “deepest condolences” to Collado’s family.

“Driving drunk is dangerous because it removes the driver’s ability to respond to the unexpected hazards which are a part of driving on Long Island,” he added.

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