CARMEN HUERTAS,has been indicted on charges of manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol

Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau announced today the indictment of CARMEN HUERTAS in connection with a drunk-driving motor vehicle incident that killed an 11-year-old girl and injured six other girls between the ages of 11- and 14-years-old.

HUERTAS, 31, of the Bronx, has been indicted on charges of manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and assault. The crimes charged in the indictment occurred on October 11, 2009.

The investigation leading to today’s indictment revealed that on Friday, October 10, 2009, HUERTAS invited six of her daughter’s school-age friends to her Bronx home for a sleepover, including 11-year-old Leandra Rosado of Manhattan. The parents and guardians of the six invited girls were informed by HUERTAS that they would be spending the weekend at the defendant’s home.

On Saturday evening, HUERTAS, without prior notice to the parents or guardians of any of the girls, put the girls and HUERTAS’ 14-month-old son into a 1998 Mercury Sable station wagon and drove them to Chelsea in Manhattan, to attend the birthday party of an adult relative of HUERTAS. HUERTAS was to drive all eight children back to the Bronx at the conclusion of the party.

During the party, HUERTAS began drinking alcohol, including cognac. At approximately 12:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 11, 2009, HUERTAS loaded the eight children into her station wagon for the return trip to the Bronx. However, prior to her leaving, HUERTAS’ former common-law spouse informed the father of HUERTAS’ son that HUERTAS was intoxicated and not capable of safely driving to the Bronx. The father of HUERTAS’ son confronted HUERTAS and attempted to convince her not to drive the car. HUERTAS dismissed his concerns and prepared to drive away. At this time the father entered the vehicle and removed the toddler. He did not, however, make efforts to remove any of the other children.

HUERTAS left Chelsea via the West Side Highway at approximately 12:30AM and proceeded northbound on the West Side Highway. Leandra Rosado and two other children were in the far back compartment of the station wagon. The compartment had no seatbelts, and the three children seated there were not restrained in any way. At least two of the children seated in the back seat of the vehicle were not wearing seatbelts either. En route HUERTAS repeatedly engaged in a guessing game with the children, asking them to raise their hands if they thought they would make it home without crashing or whether they thought the car would crash on the highway. The New York City Police Department Highway Accident Investigation Squad has concluded that HUERTAS was driving at approximately 68 miles per hour. The posted speed limit is 50 miles per hour.

At approximately 12:40 a.m., at E.90th Street on the Henry Hudson Parkway, HUERTAS lost control of the vehicle. The vehicle repeatedly swerved right and left and then went airborne off the highway towards a wide, tree-lined grassy shoulder on the east side of the northbound lanes. The vehicle rolled and impacted with trees in a wooded area. All three children in the rear compartment were ejected from the vehicle, landing on the shoulder of the highway. Leandra Rosario was found in cardiac arrest on the side of the highway by emergency responders. She was immediately taken to St. Luke’s Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Her cause of death was traumatic, blunt force injuries to the head and torso.

HUERTAS crawled from the vehicle and removed her daughter. The other children were also able to crawl out of the vehicle, which was resting upside down on its roof and hood.

The victims were taken to various trauma centers in Manhattan, suffering from injuries which included skull and spinal fractures, broken arms and legs, and concussions. At this time one child remains hospitalized in serious but stable condition.

At the scene police investigators from the NYPD Highway Accident Investigation Squad performed a portable breath analysis test on HUERTAS. The result of the breath test was a Blood Alcohol Content of .132%. The legal limit is .08%. HUERTAS was taken to the hospital for an injury to her shoulder. Blood was taken to determine its Blood Alcohol Content. The toxicology analysis performed on the blood of HUERTAS by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner yielded a Blood Alcohol Content of .11%.

CARMEN HUERTAS has been indicted on one count of Manslaughter in the Second Degree, a class C violent felony, which is punishable by up to 15 years in state prison; two counts of Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree, a class D felony, which is punishable by up to 2⅓ to 7 years in state prison; two counts of Vehicular Assault in the First Degree, a class D felony, which is punishable by up to 2⅓ to 7 years in state prison; four counts of Vehicular Assault in the Second Degree, a class E felony, which is punishable by up to 1⅓ to 4 years in state prison; two counts of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in city jail; and five counts of Assault in the Third Degree, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in city jail.

HUERTAS is scheduled to be arraigned in mid-November in State Supreme Court, Part 82.

Mr. Morgenthau thanked members of the New York City Police Department Highway Accident Investigation Squad, including Lieutenant Michael Kelly, Sergeant Richard Angeletti, and Detective Brian Leonard.

Assistant District Attorney Christopher Ryan is handling the prosecution of this case, under the supervision of Assistant District John Irwin, Bureau Chief of Trial Bureau 80.

Defendant Information:

CARMEN HUERTAS, 5/5/1978
1506 Walton Avenue
Bronx, New York

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