District Attorney

Posted on: October 3, 2014

Driver Pleas to Top Charge in Case of High-Speed, Drug-Fueled Crash

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced the guilty plea today of a New Cassel woman whose high-speed, drug-fueled crash in a Westbury intersection left another driver seriously injured and put the lives of other drivers in imminent danger. Ethel Edwards, 44, is expected to be sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to the following charges before Judge David Sullivan: Assault in the 1st Degree (top charge, a B Violent felony) Vehicular Assault in the 2nd Degree (an E felony) Reckless Endangerment in the 1st Degree (an A misdemeanor) Reckless Driving (an unclassified misdemeanor) Driving While Under the Influence of Drugs (an unclassified misdemeanor) Edwards also pleaded guilty to Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 5th Degree in an unrelated drug case. She is due back in court on Nov. 6. “Jose Pineda was in the wrong place at the wrong time on April 22, but it’s fortunate that he survived” DA Rice said. “The defendant’s depraved, out-of-control actions on a weekday morning could easily have killed Mr. Pineda or anyone else who happened to be driving or walking along Brush Hollow Road that day. The seriousness of the defendant’s crimes require the substantial sentence promised by the court and it should send a clear message that drivers who threaten innocent lives will not be tolerated in Nassau County.” DA Rice said that at approximately 10:10 a.m. on April 22, at the intersection of Brush Hollow Road and Hillcrest Drive in Westbury, Edwards was high on drugs and drove her grey 2010 Toyota Corolla at approximately 65 miles per hour through a red light and crashed into a Ford Econoline delivery van driven by 45-year-old Jose Pineda of Hempstead and full of bottled water and other beverages.Edwards’s vehicle was airborne at one point before the impact. Mr. Pineda’s van was violently pushed through the intersection and into a light pole. The impact caused the light pole to cut so far into the driver’s compartment that Mr. Pineda’s face was resting against it after the crash. An hourlong extrication was required to free Mr. Pineda, who suffered traumatic injuries, including a fractured pelvis and breaks to his legs and hip, leaving him in critical condition at the time of the incident. Mr. Pineda was unable to walk for almost two months and is continuing to receive treatment for his serious injuries. Edwards’s Corolla also struck a nearby parked car, pushing it backwards 10 to 15 feet. Edwards, who was not seriously injured, was under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident, and was also in possession of substances determined to be heroin and crack cocaine. Assistant District Attorneys Stefanie Palma and Steven Henesy of DA Rice’s Vehicular Crimes Bureau are prosecuting the case. Edwards is represented by Jeff Groder, Esq.

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