An Islip mother has been charged upstate with drunken driving with her children after her daughter dialed 911 from inside the car, State Police said Wednesday.
During Sunday's cell phone call, a law enforcement source said, the mother, Jamie S. Hicks, tried to snatch the phone away from her daughter. Satellite-tracking technology was used to help pinpoint the car and an arrest was made on the shoulder of Interstate 84 west in Brewster, authorities said.
Hicks' arrest came nearly a year to the day that State Police say West Babylon mother Diane Schuler drove high and drunk the wrong way on the Taconic State Parkway in a crash that killed eight people.
"The scary thing is that it happened on the eve of this tragedy out on the Taconic," said State Police Capt. Robert Nuzzo. "The similarities are eerie: a woman going back to Long Island with the kids in the car" while driving drunk, he said.
Hicks, 48, of Grant Avenue, was charged with felony driving while intoxicated under Leandra's Law because she was with children, her 12-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy.
Blood-alcohol testing showed Hicks' blood-alcohol content to be 0.18, more than twice the state legal limit of 0.08, police said.
"This was not a couple of drinks. This was up there," Nuzzo said, adding she admitted drinking "earlier in the day."
During the girl's call from the green 1995 Buick LeSabre, the girl said her mother was driving erratically, he said. The daughter said "something was wrong" with her mother: "She was speaking strangely. She was driving erratically."
Nuzzo said the girl "implied that the driver was possibly intoxicated."
After the call disconnected, a 911 operator called back the cell phone several times. The phone was answered once, and the operator heard arguing, Nuzzo said.
Authorities tracked her location on an electronic map using the cell phone's GPS signal, said Adam Stiebeling, an emergency services deputy commissioner of Putnam County, where the arrest happened.
When troopers found the Buick, at about 5:50 p.m. shortly after the call, the girl was outside the car, and Hicks was still behind the wheel. A 39-year-old man and a 43-year-old woman had also stopped their minivan on the side of the road because they said that they saw something that seemed amiss, police said.
Hicks was arraigned in the Town of Southeast Court and was released on $1,000 cash or $2,000 bond. She's due back in court on Aug. 17, said court clerk Heather Fitzgerald.
Her children were released to the custody of their grandparents in Southbury, Conn., Nuzzo said. Hicks had just picked up the children from there earlier in the day, he said.
Leandra's Law, which went into effect in December, is named for Leandra Rosado, 11, of Manhattan, who died in an October crash in which her friend's mother is alleged to have been driving drunk.
Outside her Islip home Tuesday, Hicks declined to comment and a neighbor flanking her told reporters to "leave her alone."
A manager at the Kitchen Kabaret in Bay Shore, where Hicks works as a baker, said she worked part time because she was a mother.
"Let me tell you," the manager said, "those kids are her life and she is an amazing mother."
With Rachel Bryson-Brockmann
and John Valenti