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Man Pleads Guilty to 2018 Fatal Car Crash on Van Wyck Expressway in Kew Gardens Hills

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Aug. 3, 2020 By Allie Griffin

A Brooklyn man pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide and other crimes Friday for a drunken car crash that killed a man in 2018 on the Van Wyck Expressway in Kew Gardens Hills.

Alex Elicier, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, pleaded guilty to the charges in Queens Supreme Court Friday.

Elicier, 31, killed Jairo Castano, 38, and the victim’s two dogs after drunkenly crashing into the vehicle they were in two years ago. The collision caused a seven-car pile-up on the expressway and injured four others.

The defendant allegedly drank Hennessy and smoked marijuana at a strip club before stepping behind the wheel of a Chevy just before 5 a.m. on Aug. 18, 2018, surveillance video shows.

Elicier was weaving in and out of traffic and crossing multiple lanes at more than 80 miles per hour on the Van Wyck Expressway when he slammed into the back of an Acura near Jewel Avenue, according to the charges.

The impact shoved the Acura — where Castano sat as a passenger along with his dogs — into the center guardrail, where it then shot into the air and landed upside down on the southbound lanes of the Van Wyck Expressway. Another driver that was traveling south then struck the Acura, the charges state.

Castano, of Brooklyn, was crushed on impact and pronounced dead at the scene, while his two dogs were ejected from the car and killed. Jasmine Rodriguez, 27, who was driving the Acura survived, but sustained facial fractures, injuries to her torso and a broken arm.

Seven vehicles either crashed or were hit with debris while trying to avoid being struck in total, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said. Five people, including Elicier, were injured.

Elicier was treated at an area hospital for head injuries and given a blood test, in which his blood alcohol level was .16 and traces of THC was found, Katz said.

“It is extremely selfish to drink and drive as well as to smoke marijuana and drive,” Katz said in a statement. “When someone downs a beer or shot or cocktail or smokes a joint and then gets behind the wheel of a car, it endangers the lives of everyone on the road.”

Elicier also pleaded guilty to assault in the second degree and two counts of torturing or injuring an animal.

The Bed-Stuy resident faces between five and 15 years in prison. He will be sentenced on Aug. 27.

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