By Patrick Markey
A Derry-born ambulance driver has been indicted on manslaughter charges after her emergency vehicle ran a red light in Brooklyn and smashed into a family car, killing three small children, officials said.
In what prosecutors have called a tragic case, Anne Lamberson, who’s 34, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide after the private ambulance she was driving hit the car of Nigerian immigrant Angela Igwe, killing three of her children, aged 7,5 and 2 years old.
Lamberson, was indicted on Oct. 16 and is expected to be formally arraigned within the next week, according to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office. Lamberson’s parents emigrated from the Bogside in 1964, the Derry Journal newspaper reported.
According to investigators, Lamberson was driving at Bedford Avenue and Kings Highway in Brooklyn at 11 p.m. on Sept. 30 when her vehicle sped through a steady red light at around 50 to 70 mph.
Although the ambulance lights and sirens were on, police have said Lamberson was not on an emergency call when she went through the red light. The indictment charges she recklessly caused the death of Damilola Morak, Olusegun Morak and Akintunde Morak and caused injury to their mother and her other daughter, 9-year-old Ibironke Morak.
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"An emergency vehicle driver may proceed past a steady red signal, a flashing red signal or a stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation," Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said in a statement. A driver may also exceed the speed limit if he or she does not endanger life, the statement said.
Investigators charge that Lamberson did not comply with these restrictions.
While the victim’s family struggles to recover from the tragedy, Lamberson has appeared with her attorney on television, visible distraught about the incident. They have played a tape recording on television of the dispatcher’s call, questioning whether the call was a non-priority incident. Lamberson’s attorney could not be reached for comment before deadline.
If convicted Lamberson could face from five to 15 years in prison, depending on how the judge sentences her.
"When we initially crashed, my partner and I got out of the ambulance to try to help, but I became traumatically shocked and was taken to Brookdale Hospital," Lamberson told the Derry Journal.
"I am not a criminal. I have no violations against my driver’s license and I have never been in trouble with the law. I’ve been told I could go to jail for up to 15 years if convicted. I have already lost one child to cancer and I don’t want to go to jail and lose my only child, Catherine, and my husband," she told the paper.