Man held in US couple's deadly crash

2013-03-07 11:05
Pennsylvania State Police, along with New York City police officers, transport Julio Acevedo, aged 44, from the State Police Barracks in Bethlehem to the Lehigh County Prison. (Tim Wynkoop, AP)

Pennsylvania State Police, along with New York City police officers, transport Julio Acevedo, aged 44, from the State Police Barracks in Bethlehem to the Lehigh County Prison. (Tim Wynkoop, AP)

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New York - A man suspected of fleeing the scene of a grisly New York crash that killed a pregnant woman and her husband was arrested in the neighbouring state of Pennsylvania on Wednesday after a friend arranged his surrender, and he was ordered held without bail.

Julio Acevedo walked to officers waiting in cars in a convenience store parking lot and was arrested on charges of leaving the scene of an accident, New York Police Department spokesperson Paul Browne said. Acevedo said nothing to officers who took him into custody, Browne said.

Acevedo is accused of speeding down a Brooklyn street at 96km/h early on Sunday and crashing into a car carrying Nachman and Raizy Glauber. The Glaubers, both 21 years old, died on Sunday, and their premature son, delivered by cesarean section, died on Monday.

The surrender of Acevedo on Wednesday evening was brokered by a friend who had been in touch with police earlier in the day. The friend met officers at New York's Grand Central Terminal and then led them to Acevedo in Bethlehem, about 128km away, police said.

Acevedo, aged 44, was ordered held without bail on a charge of being a fugitive from justice late on Wednesday during a video hearing. A judge said Acevedo would be held overnight in Lehigh County Prison while awaiting an extradition hearing on Thursday to address his return to New York, said The Express-Times newspaper.

Acevedo said he understood.

Fleeing gunman

It was unclear if Acevedo had an attorney. The friend had told police that Acevedo would surrender after consulting an attorney, but none was with him when he turned himself in, Browne said.

Acevedo told the Daily News that he was fleeing a gunman who was trying to shoot at him when his borrowed BMW slammed into a hired car carrying the couple. He told the newspaper he fled because he was worried he'd be killed. But police said there were no reports of shots fired in the area at the time of the wreck.

The tragedy unfolded shortly after midnight on Saturday, when Raizy Glauber, who was seven months pregnant, decided to go to the hospital because she wasn't feeling well, her family said. The Glaubers called a livery cab, a hired car that is arranged via telephone, not hailed off the street like a yellow cab.

The crash with the BMW reduced the livery cab to a crumpled heap, and Raizy Glauber was thrown from it. The cab's engine ended up in the back seat. The driver of the cab was knocked unconscious.

The couple belonged to a close-knit ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, which is home to the largest community of ultra-Orthodox Jews outside Israel, more than 250 000. They were members of the Satmar Hasidic sect. Raizy Glauber grew up in a prominent rabbinical family. Her husband was studying at a rabbinical college; his family founded a line of clothing for Orthodox Jews.

Bittersweet satisfaction

The couple's son weighed only about 1.8kg when he was delivered, neighbours and friends said. He died of extreme prematurity, the city medical examiner's office said.

He was buried on Monday near his parents' graves, according to a spokesperson for the Hasidic Jewish community. About a thousand community members turned out for the young couple's funeral a day earlier.

Word of Acevedo's arrest was met with bittersweet satisfaction in the Glaubers' community.

"It's a sweet bitter pill to swallow," said Isaac Abraham, a spokesperson for the community. "It's a little good news that at least the man responsible has been arrested, but it doesn't bring any of the victims back."

He added that community members hoped Acevedo would face murder charges.

"We in the community hope that today is Acevedo's last day that he sees daylight for the rest of his life," he said.

Ex-convict

Acevedo was arrested last month on a charge of driving while under the influence, and the case is pending. He was stopped by police after they said he was driving erratically around 03:00 on 17 February. He had a blood-alcohol level of 0.13, over the legal limit of 0.08, police said.

He served about a decade in prison in the 1990s for manslaughter after he was convicted of shooting a Brooklyn criminal whose moniker, 50 Cent, was the inspiration for rapper Curtis Jackson's current stage name.

How Acevedo came to possess the BMW is under investigation. The registered owner was arrested on Sunday on insurance fraud charges related to the vehicle, but the case was deferred.

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