For at least the second time this year, an unlicensed driver will be punished with no more than a token fine for killing a Manhattan pedestrian.On June 30, Yolanda Casal, 78, and her 41-year-old daughter Anais Emmanuel were crossing Amsterdam Avenue near West 98th Street when Edwin Carrasco, 38, of Paterson, New Jersey, drove his Ford Explorer into them while backing up in pursuit of a parking spot. Casal was later pronounced dead at St. Luke’s Hospital; Emmanuel was hospitalized with injuries.
Reports indicated that Carrasco, who has a history of license suspensions and reckless driving, was initially charged by NYPD with driving with a suspended license, unsafe backing and failure to exercise due care. Though Carrasco was reportedly breaking at least two laws at the time of the crash, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance levied no charges related to the death or injuries caused by Carrasco’s negligence.
According to the online database of the New York State Unified Court System, Carrasco pled guilty in Manhattan Criminal Court on September 22 to a top charge of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree, a misdemeanor that stipulates that Carrasco drove without a license when he knew or should have known that he didn’t have a license. He is due to pay a $500 fine in December.
Days after Casal was killed, the unlicensed dump truck driver who ran down Upper East Side pedestrian Laurence Renard pled guilty to aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree and, like Carrasco, was fined $500.
As a DA candidate, Vance pledged to hold dangerous drivers accountable for their actions. In July, responding to a query regarding the investigation of Casal’s death, a Vance spokesperson told Streetsblog: “When we prosecute a case we look at the elements of the law and the facts of our case to determine whether we can go forward with the case. If we find that the facts of a case fit criminally negligent homicide, we will not hesitate to charge them.”