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Hit-run in Old Westbury kills Astoria cyclist

An avid cyclist, Maxim Vickers had bicycled across Europe: Latvia. England. Italy. He twice completed the Paris-Brest, the grueling roughly 750-mile, three-day bike race.

And on Monday afternoon, he was bicycling in Old Westbury when a suspected hit-and-run driver struck him, fatally injuring the 59-year-old Astoria man.

Although Vickers, a mechanical engineer, lived alone in the city, the death has devastated the Queens family from whom he'd rented their upstairs for 28 years: his landlords, the Mendoros family, considered him a part of theirs.

"It's not going to be easy to face every holiday knowing there's one person missing from the table," said Anna Mendoros-Rodriguez, 34, disconsolate over the sudden death of a man who watched her and her siblings grow up.

The crash happened Monday at Store Hill Road and Powells Lane in Old Westbury at about 11:10 a.m., when the driver of a 1998 Toyota Camry struck Vickers on his bicycle and knocked him to the ground, court records show.

Vickers was rushed to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow where he was pronounced dead at 6:12 p.m.

Police said they tracked down the car and the suspected driver, 20-year-old Plainview college student Priya Nanda, in the parking lot of a Jericho Staples store shortly after the incident.

A mirror fragment that broke off the car during the collision helped police conclude that Nanda's car was the one that hit Vickers, Nassau police spokesman Det. Vincent Garcia said Thursday.

According to court records, Nanda told police about 48 minutes after the crash that "the guy on the bike . . . tried to cut me off," that she hit him, and that "I was nervous and kept driving.""

She's charged with felony leaving the scene of a deadly accident. She was arraigned Tuesday at First District Court in Hempstead, and is free on $10,000 bond or $5,000 cash bail and due back in court Jan. 7.

Nanda's defense attorney, Oscar Michelen of Mineola, called the crash a tragedy and said she didn't intend to evade responsibility.

Vickers' funeral will be Sunday in Queens.

His younger brother, Daniel Vickers, 51, of San Rafael, Calif., fondly recalled their adventure biking Europe together in 1976: Normandy, Brittany, England, Wales, and into Scotland.

"I miss him a great deal," he said.

Vickers was Jewish, but he'd always join the Greek-Orthodox Mendoros family at meals to celebrate their traditions - Easter and Christmas included.

On Tuesday night, his landlady, Antonia Mendoros, 61, stood over their dining room table where the family had hosted Vickers last week for Thanksgiving. She held his chair where he sat at the head of the table. "He was family." she said. "He was family."

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