Category: Archive

Paramedic arraigned on manslaughter charges

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Patrick Markey

BROOKLYN — The Derry-born ambulance driver who is facing jail time after her emergency vehicle smashed into a family car in Brooklyn and killed three children, was arraigned this week in Brooklyn State Supreme Court, where she pleaded not guilty manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges.

Anne Lamberson’s court appearance follows her arrest after the private ambulance she was driving sped through a red light on Sept. 30 and crashed into the Nissan driven by Nigerian immigrant Angela Igwe, police said. Three of Igwe’s children, aged 7, 5 and 2, were killed in the crash. Igwe and her daughter Ibironke were critically injured.

Wearing a black suit and clutching rosary beads, Lamberson, who’s 34, appeared visibly upset as she spoke to reporters outside the court room on Monday.

"It’s been a nightmare for two families," she said. "Everyone is a wreck over this."

The case has caused a growing furor in Derry, where Lamberson’s relatives have lambasted the New York police over her arrest for what they say is fundamentally an accident. Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume has also voiced his support to Lamberson’s case. Two television crews from Northern Ireland — BBC Belfast and Ulster TV — arrived last week to cover her court appearance. Lamberson’s parents moved to the U.S. from the Bogside in 1964.

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While prosecutors and the defense have both labeled the incident a tragedy, there has been contention over whether Lamberson was on an emergency call when she collided with the car.

Police and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office charge Lamberson broke the law when she recklessly sped through the light with her vehicle’s sirens on and lights flashing. Under New York law, emergency vehicles can pass a red light or stop sign and exceed the speed limit if they exercise caution and do not endanger life. Investigators said they found no evidence that Lamberson complied with those guidelines.

Deputy District Attorney Joseph Petrosino, who is prosecuting the case, said that regardless of whether Lamberson was on a priority call, she had been driving recklessly and "putting life in danger instead of saving it."

While Lamberson faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, it is also possible she could be given probation when she is sentenced, Petrosino said. The fact that she was on a priority call would be taken into consideration by the judge at sentencing, he said.

Lamberson’s attorney, Michael Dowd, said the defense will now work to illustrate that there is insufficient evidence for a grand jury indictment and to ask for the charges to be dismissed. Dowd said he would build a case to show that the incident was an "unavoidable and tragic" accident.

As the criminal case continues, the victim’s family plans to file a civil suit and has hired Johnnie Cochran, who was involved in the controversial O.J. Simpson trial, and Peter Neufield, who has fought trials for the Irish community in police brutality cases. Igwe and her daughter are recovering from the crash at home ,where the mother is under 24-hour nursing care, Neufield said.

Lamberson is currently free on $5,000 bail, which was reduced on Monday from $25,000. The trial is set to continue on Dec. 22.

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