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Alleged DWI Mom Taunted Kids Before Fatal Crash ['Raise Your Hands If You Think I'm Gonna Crash']
CBS-TV ^ | Oct 13, 2009 | Pablo Guzman

Posted on 10/13/2009 8:07:53 AM PDT by ETL

Carmen Huertas Accused Of Driving Drunk With 7 Girls In Car; Daughter Pleaded With Woman To Slow Down
Suspect Asked Children To 'Raise Your Hands If You Think I'm Gonna Crash'

NEW YORK (CBS) - She promised another parent that the children would be in good hands. She even joked about it. But what happened next was no joking matter.

Now a young girl is dead, a mother is under arrest, and families are devastated after a tragic accident on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

A woman stands next to her critically-injured daughter's hospital bed Monday, hoping and praying she will make a full recovery. And all her anger can be directed at one woman – 31-year-old Carmen Huertas – who police said drove drunk with seven children in her car before flipping it over.

The girls who survived the horrible crash had already been to one slumber party the night before. They thought they were going to a second, going up the highway from Manhattan towards the Bronx at West 96th Street when the car flipped. The surviving girls have told their parents that Huertas appeared to be drunk, with the seven young girls as passengers.

One of those parents is, Melody Sanchez. Her daughter, Kayla Fernandez, is still in critical condition. Sanchez allowed CBS 2 exclusively into her daughter's hospital room Monday to show just how critical her daughter is, and to tell the young girls' stories.

"She told me all she remembers is she was driving, swerving side to side because she was playing with them. And she had told the kids, 'If you think I'm gonna crash, raise your hands.' And all the kids did not raise their hands. And then her daughter kept telling her, 'Mom, slow down.' And she didn't listen to her daughter, and she said, 'If you think this is bad, wait until we get to the highway,'" Sanchez exclusively told CBS 2.

Huertas' own daughter, Brittany, was also in the car. Police are being told Huertas apparently drank at a birthday party for her niece in Chelsea. The question other parents have is, however, if that's true, why would adults at the party let her get behind the wheel? It's a question so sensitive that apparently it's why our camera was chased away from that apartment.

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly had lots to say, though.

"I guess some people aren't getting the message. It's incredible how anyone would take those young lives in their hands when they've had a few drinks," he told CBS 2.

Killed in the crash was 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, who was ejected from the vehicle. Of the other five girls, 14-year-old Yismel Rosario crawled from the car to comfort her sister, Gisele, and Kayla, who were both thrown from the car.

"I'm just stressed, tired. I'm just frustrated; I wish there could be more done for my child and I want this lady to do life. She was playing with all of their lives and I'm just sad that she would do something like this to our children, including her child," Sanchez said.

Huertas is still hospitalized, recovering from her own injuries. She's already been charged at the hospital with vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated.


When one parent makes a promise to another that they will protect their child, you expect them to do just that, but in the case of Huertas, it was an empty promise. Now, a single father sits alone, his 11-year-old daughter gone.

Pieces of the shattered car still litter the crash site along the West Side Highway. They were parts of athefive-passenger Mercury Sable, allegedly driven by Huertas, and packed with eight people, including Rosado, who is never coming home.

"I slept in her room last night, she wasn't there and I felt it," said Lenny Rosado, Leandra's father. "I know it's going to be a tough road ahead."

Rosado's room is filled with pictures and books, Beanie Babies, shoes, clothing, and all the physical possessions of the young life she lost.

The last time her father saw her alive was at the curb outside his apartment house on West 20th Street early Saturday evening. It was the drop-off point before Huertas would later take the girls up to the Bronx for a holiday weekend sleepover.

"She looked OK. I didn't see no signs of intoxication. We shook hands and she told me 'Lenny, your daughter's wonderful, you know she's a doll and she's in good hands with me don't worry,' and I said 'OK, no problem,'" said Rosado. "She told me that she was in good hands."

But Huertas' demeanor likely changed in the hours of partying that followed. Those who knew the little girl want to know where the other adults were when she grabbed the car keys and left with the kids.

"You don't invite children to a party that has alcohol. Anything can happen and this is right now, it's a shame that this has to be an example," said J.M. Estrella, a family friend.

It's a crushing cost to bear for a family that did keep close tabs, which did check to see who was driving. The girl's grandmother, Olga Rosado, stood in the child's bedroom and stared at the empty room on Monday, remembering that Leandra was hoping to re-paint it soon.

"We'll paint it the way she wanted even though she isn't here," she told CBS 2.

Leandra's wake is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. Her father says he'll open it up to the whole city. He wants us everyone to know what happened, and everyone to remember.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: New York
KEYWORDS: crime; dui; dwi; newyorkcity; parentsnotfriends; partymommy; recklessendangerment; upperwestside
Awful, and hopefully a wake-up call to anyone who doesn't take driving seriously enough.
1 posted on 10/13/2009 8:07:53 AM PDT by ETL
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I realize that in a 5 passenger car packed with 8 passengers, someone’s gonna get hurt, but seat belts might have saved a life or saved others from serious injury. Why would parents let their kids ride in a car where they couldn’t be seat belted?

2 posted on 10/13/2009 8:12:18 AM PDT by radiohead (Buy ammo, get your kids out of government schools, pray for the Republic.)
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It always amazes me that people still do not get the message. Even one can create havoc. Why is it necessary to drink and then drive?

3 posted on 10/13/2009 8:23:48 AM PDT by the long march
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To: radiohead

They probably didn’t know, since they weren’t at the party.

4 posted on 10/13/2009 8:48:34 AM PDT by NYC GOP Chick
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I’ll tell you how they can end or at least seriously put the stops on this kind of irresponsible carnage, and that is to authorize on-the-spot execution when a drunken driver has killed or maimed someone, backed up by a breathalyzer.

Just shoot them right there on the spot, send the medical examiner’s bill to the perp’s estate.

After a few dozen drunken drivers are dispatched in this manner, you’ll see people start wising up.

5 posted on 10/13/2009 8:56:48 AM PDT by mkjessup (Clinton, Bush & 0bama = "See No Evil, Speak No Evil, and *EVIL* ..." (w/apologies to Bob Dole))
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To: mkjessup

Judge Dredd time.

6 posted on 10/13/2009 9:00:27 AM PDT by Fee (Peace, prosperity, jobs and common sense)
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To: mkjessup

I said that to my wife just yesterday. I like your thinking. :)

7 posted on 10/13/2009 9:01:27 AM PDT by DYngbld (I have read the back of the Book and we WIN!!!!)
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To: mkjessup; DYngbld

As a victim of drunk/drugged driving, I too would vote for your measure.

8 posted on 10/13/2009 9:09:19 AM PDT by OB1kNOb (There are four boxes used in defense of liberty: Soap, ballot, jury, & ammo. Use in that order.)
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To: the long march
Why is it necessary to drink and then drive?

Because one CAN do so safely?

Lie: Drivers with BACs .08 and over are dangerously impaired and should be arrested, prosecuted, and severely punished--even first offenders. Citing tragic, heartbreaking individual stories of loved ones killed and lives ruined by drivers supposedly in the .08-.10 range, MADD convinced Congress in 2000 to force states to lower their legal limits to .08. Thirty-four states had done so by this January, and the rest (fearing the loss millions of dollars in federal highway funds) likely will comply by the October 1, 2003, deadline.

Truth: NHTSA's own highly questionable 2001 data shows clearly that targeting drivers in that low-BAC range is an egregious waste of resources. Less than 1.3% of 2001 fatalities involved a driver between .08 and .10 BAC vs. 12.4% at .15 or greater. Even the .00-.02 (trace level) range accounts for about 1.2% of fatalities. Should we target that group next? Don't ask. "Anyone with a modest understanding of this issue, and who is honest, " says NMA President Jim Baxter, "knows that drivers with low BACs such as .08% are no more likely to be involved in an accident than someone with a BAC of 0.0%."

9 posted on 10/13/2009 9:12:03 AM PDT by big black dog
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To: big black dog

You are a nut, and probably a drunk too if you believe what you just posted.

10 posted on 10/13/2009 9:22:51 AM PDT by Palladin (ACORN is a criminal enterprise.)
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To: big black dog

That’s right always quote from the self appointed national motorist association. President has a calling don’t ya know.

ANYONE who tries to justify their drinking and then driving is kidding themselves and their eventual victims

11 posted on 10/13/2009 9:30:45 AM PDT by the long march
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To: the long march
Driving with a BAC of 0.08 is simply not inherently dangerous.

Why do enforcement authorities, prosecutors, and judges target and punish even low-BAC drivers so aggressively when statistics clearly show that virtually all real drunk driving accidents, injuries, and fatalities are caused by drivers testing at .14 and above? Because NHTSA, MADD, and politicians (believing the "41%" lie) relentlessly pressure and incentivize them (with federal grants) to increase their numbers of arrests and convictions...increasingly difficult in recent years since fewer and fewer Americans these days of us are foolish enough to actually drive drunk.

Why do officers too often (illegally) stop people late at night for no reason, "fishing" for impaired drivers, sometimes lying to falsify reports and create DUI busts despite no physical evidence of impairment? Because they too, are pressured, judged by ticket quotas, and motivated by the promise of overtime pay for time spent in court.

The unfortunate truth is that DUI enforcement has degenerated into a dollar-driven system created by well-intentioned but uninformed people who are pressured by truth-twisting zealots and supported by a popular media too lazy to check the facts or question their propaganda. "DUIs are BIG BUSINESS," says RIDL founder Jeanne Pruett. "Lowering the BAC limit does nothing to save lives but increases the potential income pool for police, courts, lawyers, and insurance companies which substantially increase rates for DUI offenders."

12 posted on 10/13/2009 9:35:47 AM PDT by big black dog
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To: big black dog

Sounds to me like you have been nabbed drunk driver and are resentful. Most responsible adults don’t feel the NEED to drink alcohol ( or smoke pot or take other drugs) and then drive

Don’t bother to respond. I won’t read it

13 posted on 10/13/2009 9:47:49 AM PDT by the long march
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To: the long march

Then don’t read it. Responsible adults are able to use common sense about all situations and not go off half-cocked on emotional whims because they been spoon fed outrageous propaganda.

It’s not a matter of NEEDING to drive after a drink. It’s a matter of it can be safely done so with a BAC of 0.8, and there is no need to criminalize such behavior.

14 posted on 10/13/2009 10:04:41 AM PDT by big black dog
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To: big black dog

... plus, how else are you supposed to get your car home?

15 posted on 10/13/2009 1:37:56 PM PDT by tarawa
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