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Aggressive Driving

There Was No Medical Episode, Says Family of Driver Who Killed Queens Delivery Man

12:37 AM EDT on May 5, 2021

A makeshift memorial on 35th Street for Xing Long Lin. Photo: Julianne Cuba

Even the woman whose allegedly reckless driving killed a delivery worker in Queens last week is denying cops’ theory that she had a “medical episode” before the fatal crash, according to her family.

The ex-husband of driver Maro Yerolemou said his former spouse was driving the Mercedes-Benz last Thursday evening that killed 37-year-old Xing Long Lin on 35th Street near Ditmars Boulevard. Yerolemou, whose name has not been released by the NYPD, also slammed into an outdoor dining area belonging to Rosatoro Restaurant, injuring a patron.

Like in many fatal crashes, cops attempted to absolve the driver, and have said a “medical episode” might have caused her to crash. There have been subsequent reports that the only "episode" the driver had was simple road rage and lost control of her luxury car and killed Lin after speeding around a slower driver in front of her. But on Monday, the NYPD told Streetsblog that it was still pursuing the "medical episode" theory.

But Costas Yerolemou, the driver's ex-husband, said neither theory is accurate — his ex-wife’s physical health is perfectly fine; her mental health now, not so much.

“No she never had a medical it’s all lies,” Yerolemou told Streetsblog outside his former flame's Astoria house on Tuesday. “She cries everyday for the situation.”

Like the police, Yerolemou also came to the defense of his ex-wife and mother of his daughter — but for a different reason. He says she was on her way to church for what is now Holy Week in the Eastern Orthodox faith, when another car rammed her from behind, sending his ex-wife into panic mode, and her car careening down the street. She was unable to stop it, he claims.

“She was looking for parking, and all of a sudden she hears ‘boom’ in the back and the car took off. She couldn't control the car. She didn't have anything medical, I don’t know why the police say so many things,” Yerolemou said. “It’s going to be investigated obviously, but this is what happened.”

Police declined to respond to Yerolemou’s explanation, saying only that the "investigation is ongoing." There is circumstantial evidence to support the ex-husband's claim — Yerolemou's car is still sitting in front of the 114th Precinct station house with a detached rear bumper. But given the damage to the front of the car, it is clear that the driver was moving at an exceptionally high rate of speed, and given the force of the collision, the rear bumper may simply have been collateral damage.

Indeed, witnesses told reporters on the scene that night that the woman was going upwards of 50 miles-per-hour on the narrow, residential street when she ran over Lin, a husband and father who at the time was working for a local sushi restaurant around the corner on Ditmars Boulevard.

And video taken by witnesses shows Maro Yerolemou walking out of her car, out of the destroyed outdoor dining structure, with her car still jammed inside, its lights flashing, and punctured by wooden beams.

Yerolemou also said his ex-wife is a good driver, and has never sped nor gone through red lights. But moving violation tickets associated with the car’s plate tell a different story: 19 violations are associated with the vehicle since 2015, including four for speeding in a school zone, all of which took place in August and September, 2019, according to How’s My Driving; though it's unclear who was driving on those occasions as the tickets are just associated with the plate, not a driver.

“She’s an excellent driver, no points, never speeds, never through stop signs or red lights. We feel so bad for the gentleman who died, the whole family is upset. She’s been crying all night, but we can’t take it back," the ex-husband said.

Whatever the true reasons that led Maro Yerolemou to kill Lin with her car, safe streets advocates say Mayor de Blasio is also to blame — for failing to keep reckless drivers off the road, and for failing to build out safe infrastructure that protects vulnerable road users.

“Ever since Mayor de Blasio launched open streets, we have called for physical changes to streets to eliminate the danger of cars,” said Danny Harris, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “Mayor de Blasio has not advanced these life-saving protections to our streetscape. Unless Mayor de Blasio permanently redesigns streets for safety, drivers will continue to kill more New Yorkers whether they are crossing the street, riding a bike, or dining outdoors.”

The local Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani also blamed Lin’s death — and the deaths of both Xellea Samonte, a 23-year-old bicyclist who was killed on 35th Street in 2018; and 35-year-old Alfredo Cabrera Licona, another deliveryman, who was killed in November on Crescent Street — on the city.

“These are not isolated incidents, they are deaths caused by our city’s failure to adequately protect pedestrians & bicyclists,” the pol said on Twitter. Mamdani set up a GoFundMe for Lin’s family that has since raised more than $100,000.

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