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Always full of life,’ friend mourns 30-year-old woman killed in Gowanus crash

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A friend of the 30-year-old woman who tragically lost her life in a car crash on the Gowanus Expressway this week described her as “always full of life” and “such a beautiful soul.”

Emergency medical crews responded at about 11:20 p.m. to 911 calls reporting a crash in the Staten-Island bound lanes of the Gowanus Expressway near the 92nd Street exit, according to a statement by the NYPD.

Police say the victim — Karen Diaz of Greenridge — was found unconscious and unresponsive in the passenger seat of a 2013 black 535i BMW sedan.

“She was always full of life, laughing, loved celebrating the joys and celebrations of life,” a friend who has known Diaz since she was a teen told the Advance/ “Such a beautiful soul gone way too soon and so tragically.”

“She had an energy that was unmatched and so different. She didn’t deserve this at all. It’s hard to come to terms with this. Everyone is hurting and simply heart broken. This was so unexpected and has turned so many worlds upside down. None of us will be the same again. She was a joy and the brightest light on earth,” Diaz’s friend added.

Photos shared with the Advance/ captured shortly after the incident show the BMW seriously damaged on the front passenger side.

fatal crash

A fatal crash on the Gowanus Expressway on March 10 claimed the life of Karen Diaz, 30, of Greenridge. (Courtesy of Hillel Lichtenstein)

The passenger side of the car looks almost looked entirely dismantled with the door and the tire no longer attached to the shell of the BMW.

After being arraigned Friday, the driver, Mark Dookhan, of the 300 block on Melba Street in Meiers Corners, faces several charges, including vehicular manslaughter, manslaughter in the second degree, criminally negligent homicide, reckless driving, and driving while intoxicated, according to public records and the criminal complaint.

He was originally charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol — after a previous conviction for the same crime — and refusal to take a breathalyzer, authorities said.

Dookhan told officials shortly after the crash that he had approximately four to five vodka drinks in Manhattan, that he was heading home and that an unidentified female was driving the car and fled the location after the crash, the complaint states.

Dookhan was arraigned Friday in Brooklyn Criminal Court and remains held on a $600,000 bond and $300,000 cash bail, public records indicate.

He is expected to appear in court again on Tuesday.

“My office is still investigating the fact and circumstances of this very tragic accident,” Sharon Covino, who is representing Dookhan, said. “Our deepest condolences go out Ms. Diaz’s family.”

The NYPD Highway District’s Collision Investigation Squad determined that the BMW struck the rear of a 2000 Freightliner semi-truck, which was stopped in traffic in the middle lane of the highway.

The semi was operated by a 46-year-old male, who police say was uninjured.


The Staten Island man was previously arrested on March 1 in Brooklyn, a police spokesman said.

Then, Dookhan, who is an MTA maintainer, was in the car with a 21-year-old female he just had dinner with when he allegedly became “irate” and decided to punch her in the face, a law enforcement source told the Advance/

When the woman tried to call 911, Dookahn allegedly took her phone and threw it out of the car window in order to prevent her from calling police, the source said.

The woman also had an injury to her hand, but it was not immediately clear how she sustained that injury, the source added.

The woman was Dookahn’s girlfriend, the source said.

Dookhan was arraigned and released on his own recognizance in connection to the March 1 incident, public records indicate.

The case was categorized as a domestic violence case, according to the source and public records.

The post Always full of life,’ friend mourns 30-year-old woman killed in Gowanus crash appeared first on Lansing Daily.

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