Vehicular Homicide Charge in Thomson Death

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The man who police arrested for hitting and killing 24-year-old Julia Thomson last weekend has been charged with vehicular homicide.

According to the Daily News and the Post, police say Tenzing Bhutia, a 21-year-old Baruch College senior from Queens, knew he hit "something" with his father’s Mercedes, but did not stop.

Thomson was struck by a speeding car as she tried to cross Bowery at E. 4th Street early Sunday morning. She died almost instantly, suffering massive head injuries.

Bhutia was arrested hours after the collision when a police officer spotted the damaged car. His blood alcohol level when tested was .087, just above the legal limit of .08. Bhutia was initially charged with driving while impaired and leaving the scene of an accident. Yesterday he was arraigned on the vehicular homicide charge, which carries a penalty of up to seven years. He was held in lieu of $75,000 bail.

The Post says Thomson, who was from Scotland but had dual American citizenship, had been showing a British girlfriend around town. She was heading toward her nearby apartment when she was killed, at around 4 a.m.

Streetsblog visited the scene today. There is no indication of what happened there other than a small bouquet of flowers tied to a signpost in the center of Bowery. Employees working the lunch shift at two corner bars said they didn’t witness the collision, though the Post spoke with a doorman and barmaid who did.

Time’s Up! will be holding memorials for Thomson and Hope Miller, a 28-year-old pedestrian killed on Houston Street on September 25, starting tonight at 6:30 at
Houston and 6th Ave.

Photo: Brad Aaron

  • Clare

    Glad they caught this guy and applied the proper charges. BTW, the legal limit for alcohol is .08, not .008.

  • Dave H.

    In the Nordic and other European countries, by the way, it is .02.

    I surprised MADD isn’t trying to lower the level here. Why not make the level even lower in NYC than elsewhere since there is higher risk of driving drunk and less of a need?

  • Brad Aaron

    Corrected, Clare. Thanks.

  • MADD is always trying to lower the level, but there’s still national support for being able to have one drink and (later) drive legally. Because breathalyzers are inherently unreliable, .08 is about is as low as you can go without entering single drink territory. And given the quality of the software’s recently revealed source code, I wouldn’t trust it to never falsely report .02 for someone who had consumed no alcoholic beverage.

    On the other hand, we could probably agree that in New York no one needs to drive after one drink, so .02 would be fine if the equipment were up to snuff. But MADD is a little out of touch with the city perspective. Look at this page where they brag about raising the drinking age to 21 by driving a fleet of promotional minivans around the country, including our city. Awesome. And thanks for that globally embarrassing drinking age. How about we lower the drinking age in the city back to 18, and save lives across the region by encouraging young people to take transit into the city for their inevitable, sinful consumption of the devil’s beverage? And close the bridges and tunnels to outgoing private vehicles from midnight to six? Driving to Manhattan “nightlife” is just another form of recreational motoring that we’d be better off without. But we’re not going to find allies for that kind of forward thinking in the minivan-driving, thinly veiled temperance movement that is MADD.

  • Hilary

    Japan has a much more effective approach. I don’t know what the drinking “limit” is, but anyone caught driving after drinking loses their license. Forever. As a result, no one drinks and drives. They take exorbitant taxis, spend the night in hotels, whatever it takes to avoid the risk. I think the non-ambiguity of the penalty is more important than the blood alcohol level.

  • Hilary

    I should add (for Doc’s satisfaction) that there is also a high tolerance for drunkenness. And the puke is even removed from all the plush subway seats by the next morning 🙂

  • ln

    Stop by that corner today, and you will see a “killed by automobile” stencil with Thompson’s death date, and flowers attached to that signpost. time’s up! stenciled it last night.

    Streetsmemorials and visual resistance will be hanging a plaque there very soon.

    To my knowledge, the same charge was not levied at the killer of Hope Miller, who left the scene of a previous accident and was drug-impaired.

  • flp

    for photos of the stencils, etc. go to:

    http://times-up.org/gallery/photos.php

  • U-turn

    You are all really great for being on the right side of the law.I truly admire it.I know we all feel for Julia Thomson.He drank and drive, and yes an innocent person died(bless Julia T.),but it’s always important to put yourselves in both sides of the matter.You have to think about what tenzing and his family are going through.No one would deliberately want to kill anyone, altough he was under the influence(we all know that!)don’t you think he regrets it,don’t you think he would do anything to take it back-to rewind that night,think about how he must be driving himself crazy thinking about changing everything-come on now,i know all of you have at once gone over what you could’ve changed in a mistake you made.And im sure its not as grave as what he was done, but truth is he made a mistake-a mistake of drinking,then driving instead of taking alternatives,then speeding.But it happened.Now he has to deal with it.He made some very poor and immature decisions, and the law will give him what he rightfully deserves,but if you have one ounce of apathy, don’t add onto what he already has.Put yourself in his shoes for one minute,just one minute,it’s the hell you yourslef have created: your mind racing every second about that night,you certainly dont have any peace contemplating about what you have yet to face consequences,what you have put your loved ones through,and on top of that the media is constantly on you like a pack of hounds.I’m NOT saying that its unfair or incorrect,i’m not asking you to forgive him,because i don’t expect anyone to,but if you can even understand just for one even one millisecond what it’s like, i trust that you will see him as a human being-that has made a tragic mistake,and he is PAYING for it, but we are all humans,we tend to wrong no matter how big or small the mistake.And on that note we connect, i’m just asking you to simply remember that he too has feelings and regrets and fears and hate and loved ones just like you and me.

  • Davis

    U-turn,

    I’m sure he feels awful about killing someone. Prison is where people go to pay off their debt to society. Tenzing doesn’t get to just sit in his bedroom and feel bad for himself for making a mistake. He is a drunk driver who killed someone with a car. He may as well have been waving around a gun in the street and accidentally fired it. He needs to do some time.

  • Vroomfondel

    U-Turn,

    I’m hoping that they’ll throw the book at Tenzing Bhutia and it has nothing to do with vindictiveness. I’m hoping that they’ll throw the book at him because we need to make it clear that driving is a privilege that comes with tremendous responsibility.

    Right now most drivers don’t seem to be aware of their responsibility, in part because the police are way too quick to absolve drivers of any blame in an accident. (It’s a mystery to me how a driver can run over a pedestrian without sharing at least some of the blame, but the police usually find an excuse.)

    I’m hoping to see more stringent investigations of accidents, along with more prosecutorial zeal. We’ll all be better off if drivers lose their sense of untouchability. That goes for all drivers, but doubly so for drunken and reckless ones.

  • Against Speeders

    I know this Tenzing kid and he was always a speeder, he would drive down the block going 80 miles per hour. He lost his car a year ago and hasn’t driven since, god gave him a chance to not drive. Now he has chosen to drive with his dads car and yet again, he’s speeding down the block as always. Who gets drunk on a SUNDAY NIGHT, only gay people party on sunday nights. So Tenzing deserves to spend time in jail because he did kill someone. He wasn’t a good person either, he’s the type of guy who would hurt your feelings and disregard it, just like how he hit the girl and left her lying in the street not knowing whether he killed her or not. I saw him around Baruch, and I was so upset he wasn’t in jail.

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