Two teens from Kew Gardens and Flushing were charged with second-degree manslaughter after they were involved in an accident following an illegal street race on Francis Lewis Boulevard last week that fatally injured their 12-year-old cousin, District Attorney Richard Brown said Monday.
Kew Gardens resident David Lakhchakov, 16, and his cousin, Flushing resident David Badalov, 18, had been driving upwards of 75 miles per hour on Francis Lewis near the border of Bayside and Fresh Meadows before Badalov crashed into Lakhchakov, causing 12-year-old Aviv Babayev to sustain fatal injuries that he succumbed to on Sunday, Brown said.
Babayev, who was in the BMW, suffered two broken femurs, a broken pelvis, severe trauma to his torso and head and swelling to his brain that required surgery, according to Brown.
“Drag racing is a serious threat to public safety,” Brown said. “Immature young drivers get behind the wheel and turn our streets into speedways. Their reckless conduct endangers lives. Such illegal speed contests have no place on the streets of our city.”
Badalov and Lakhchakov were allegedly racing along Francis Lewis Boulevard, a 35 mph zone, Aug. 12 when Badalov lost control of his BMW and slammed into the Lexus driven by Lakhchakov, the DA said.
Witnesses said the BMW then spun around three times before crashing into a van parked outside 47-40 Francis Lewis Blvd.
“The driver of the Lexus came out and was really emotional,” said a neighbor who lives across the street from the accident site. “He kept screaming, ‘My cousin, my cousin.’”
Badalov and the two passengers in the BMW, 18-year-old Illya Ishakov and Babayev, were taken to New York Hospital Queens in Flushing.
Lakhchakov and Badalov were also charged with second-degree assault, endangering the welfare of a child, reckless driving, and speeding, the DA said. Lakhchakov was charged with being an unlicensed driver, and bail for both defendants has been set at $250,000, according to Brown.
More than 1,220 individuals have joined a Facebook memorial group for Babayev, who hundreds of people described as one of the friendliest, most caring and funniest person they knew.
“Avi kept the boulevard of Howard Beach laughing and smiling as he hung out in every store he passed, even if it was just a wave,” Ashley Keane wrote in a Facebook message to a TimesLedger reporter.
Vita Russo, who is also part of the Facebook group, wrote Babayev was a “really sweet and cut kid.”
“He didn’t deserve this at all,” Russo added.
Someone else posted that Babayev was “a little man with big dreams.”
Residents said Francis Lewis has been notorious for drag racing.
Kyung Kim, who owned the van damaged in the crash, said she frequently sees individuals driving at high speeds along Francis Lewis, especially at night.
“It’s really crazy at night,” said Kim, who has lived on Francis Lewis for three years.
Daniel Heffernan, a special operations lieutenant from the 111th Police Precinct in Bayside, said the number of drag racing incidents along Francis Lewis has decreased over the years. A neighbor who has lived across the street from the accident site for more than 30 years said the number of individuals racing and accidents dipped after traffic lights were installed along Francis Lewis in 1995.
“We haven’t seen a fatal drag racing accident on Francis Lewis in many years,” Heffernan said. “Francis Lewis is not what it used to be. You go back 15 years and there was organized drag racing going on.”
Heffernan said 111th precinct officers have made three drag-racing related arrests in 2009 and two in 2008. There were two drag racing arrests in 2007, five in 2006 and three in 2005. None of the arrests involved accidents, police said.
Christina Santucci contributed reporting to this article.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.
©2009 Community News Group
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