A Utah grandfather is reeling after his wife was killed and his grandson was injured in a horrific taxi crash early Saturday on the Long Island Expressway.
Taxi driver Mohamed Hussain, who also died in the accident, picked up Suzanne Nicholson, 60, and her grandson, Gabe Larsen, 11, at JFK airport and got on the LIE toward Manhattan.
Around 12:30 a.m., a possibly unconscious Hussain struck the rear of a Porsche traveling in front of him, causing the Porsche to roll over, according to police and fire department officials.
Meanwhile, the taxi came to rest sideways in the right lane, where it was totaled by a Mack garbage truck unable to stop due to the rainy weather conditions, police say.
Nicholson and Larsen were headed to meet up with another grandmother-grandson duo at a hotel.
The four of them were in town for a classic New York City trip, with visits to Central Park, the Statute of Liberty and Yankee Stadium all planned, according to Suzanne’s husband, DeWayne Nicholson, who spoke to Metro from his home in Ogden, Utah.
“She loved to travel, particularly New York City,” said Nicholson, who added that Suzanne “was fun-loving and enjoyed life.”
Firefighters told Nicholson that his wife helped to save Gabe’s life by wrapping him up at the time of the accident.
“It’s not surprising to any of us,” Nicholson said. “He would have been her top concern.”
Gabe, whose parents have flown out to be with him, remains in stable condition at Elmhurst General Hospital.
Police say no criminality is suspected in the crash.
Taxi driver leaves behind wife, kids
A funeral for Hussain, 46, took place Sunday afternoon.
He leaves behind a wife and two small children, all of whom live in Bangladesh, according to Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.
“Drivers bear so many risks on this job, whether it's assaults or accidents,” Desai said. “If you’re a driver’s family, you’re always on edge until they come home safely after a shift.”
Despite the tragedy of Saturday's crash, fatal taxi accidents in the city remain rare, according to statistics from the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
People take more than 177 million taxi rides per year in the city. In 2009, the latest year for which statistics are available, only 4,093 of those trips resulted in reported accidents. In fact, a study by Schaller Consulting found that in 2004, yellow cabs and liveries were one-third less likely to crash than other private vehicles on the road.
Other taxi crashes this year
On April 14 a five-year-old deaf boy suffered heavy brain damage after being struck by a cab in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. The boy, who was visiting New York with his parents, reportedly darted out between parked cars.
And on March 12 a taxi jumped a curb and crashed into a Duane Reade on E. 43rd Street and Third Avenue, pinning a pedestrian against the building.