No Charges From Cy Vance for Killing of Yolanda Casal

If an unlicensed driver going the wrong way on a Manhattan street is not prosecutable for killing or injuring a pedestrian, who is? Photo: Daily News

The man who killed an Upper West Side pedestrian and injured a second while backing up in pursuit of a parking spot made his first court appearance last Friday on a charge of driving without a license.

On June 30, Yolanda Casal, 78, and her 41-year-old daughter Anais Emmanuel were crossing Amsterdam Avenue near West 98th Street when Edwin Carrasco, 38, of Paterson, New Jersey, drove his Ford Explorer into them. Casal was later pronounced dead at St. Luke’s Hospital; Emmanuel was hospitalized with injuries.

Reports indicated that Carrasco, who has a history of license suspensions and reckless driving, was initially charged by NYPD with driving with a suspended license, unsafe backing and failure to exercise due care.

According to the online database of the New York State Unified Court System, Carrasco was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday with a top charge of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree, a misdemeanor that stipulates that Carrasco drove without a license when he knew or should have known that he didn’t have a license. The charge has nothing to do with killing or injuring anyone.

We reported last week that potential charges ranged from a violation of VTL 1146 (the enforcement mechanism behind Hayley and Diego’s Law and Elle’s Law) to second degree murder, with criminally negligent homicide as the most serious charge likely to be applied.

It is possible that additional charges may be levied, pending an investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance. When Streetsblog checked with Vance’s office on Friday, a spokesperson said only that charges could not be revealed prior to arraignment. Further requests for information on the case have gone unanswered.

As a DA candidate, Vance pledged to hold dangerous drivers accountable for their actions, to buck the status quo of a criminal justice system that treats traffic injuries and fatalities as blameless “accidents.” Yolanda Casal was one of three people killed by drivers in Manhattan during a three-day span last week. To date, none of the drivers involved have been charged for taking a life.