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Long IslandCrime

BMW driver charged with manslaughter in fatal taxi crash

The unlicensed driver of a BMW was charged

The unlicensed driver of a BMW was charged with manslaughter after a crash Saturday morning, April 23, 2016, that killed a taxi driver on Hempstead Turnpike in Franklin Square, Nassau County police said. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

An unlicensed driver was charged with a slew of crimes, including manslaughter and driving while intoxicated, in the death of a taxi driver in a high-speed crash early Saturday in Franklin Square, Nassau County police said.

Duke Obule, 23, of Queens was speeding on Hempstead Turnpike in a 2016 white BMW about 4:15 a.m. when he struck a 2009 Chevrolet taxi, driven by the 47-year-old victim from Elmont, police said.

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

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.

The victim, whose identity was being withheld until his family was notified, was pronounced dead at the scene minutes after the crash, officials said.

After his arrest, Obule was hospitalized Saturday for an undisclosed illness, police said.

Across the street from the collision is Ollie’s Taxi & Airport Service, the name emblazoned on the rear of the taxi.

The owner and president of the company, Marianne Blessinger, did not identify the driver, but said he had worked for her company for more than three years and drove five or six days per week.

“This poor man’s life was cut short within minutes of starting his day. I hope this criminal is prosecuted to the fullest extent,” Blessinger said in a statement Saturday night. “Drunk driving is intolerable and unacceptable. This driver will be sorely missed and remembered by all of us at Ollie’s Taxi & Airport Service.”

Police did not immediately release Obule’s blood-alcohol level or the speed the BMW was traveling when the crash occurred.

He has been charged with second-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault, driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident with death, second-degree vehicular manslaughter, second-degree vehicular assault, leaving the scene of an accident with serious physical injury, third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, facilitating aggravated unlicensed operator in the second degree and unlicensed operator, police said in a news release.

He is to be arraigned Sunday in First District Court in Hempstead.

Reached by phone Saturday afternoon, Obule’s mother, Nse Dickson, said she was upset about the crash.

Dickson said she didn’t have many details about the crash and she was not aware a taxi driver had been killed.

“I feel bad for the victim’s family,” Dickson said, sobbing.

With Will James and Deon J. Hampton

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