BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — An East Flatbush man fleeing police was decapitated when he slammed into the back of a tractor trailer on a Brooklyn-Queens Expressway exit ramp Wednesday afternoon, witnesses and NYPD said.
Leroy Samuel, 22, had just had his black four-door 2003 Infinity sedan pulled over by the NYPD when he sped away and headed for the eastbound BQE's Atlantic Avenue off-ramp at a high rate of speed, according to police and witness Joseph Vega. A tractor trailer was parked at a red light at the end of the ramp, witnesses said.
"When he exited here he was doing 70 or 80 mph. The trailer was waiting for the light. He impacted the left side of the car. He tried to avoid it, but he hit the right side of the truck," Vega, 59, said.
Witness Hamid Mateen, 36, said police were in close pursuit.
"A couple cop cars were chasing him. The lights were flashing and the sirens were on," Mateen said.
The NYPD denied that there was a police chase, saying that a foot patrolman had stopped the driver before the crash for a traffic violation in the area of Hicks Street and Atlantic Avenue. The driver took off instead of complying with the officer, police said.
Vega, who was riding his bike to work at a nearby grocery store, said that an unidentified 22-year-old passenger in the car jumped out of the car covered in blood.
"She came out screaming," he said. "The driver [of the trailer] came out too. He was in shock. He got out of the trailer. He was sitting on the ground."
Vega said that he ran to the vehicle to help the driver, but saw that it was too late.
"It was an instant death," he said, adding that the driver's head was severed from his body. "A split second. That's how fast it happened. The impact was so hard, just a boom."
The female passenger was taken to Bellevue Hospital with back and neck pain and is listed in stable condition, an FDNY spokesman and the NYPD said.
"The girl limped out. She was trying to get away, but she was hurt. There were cuts on her arm," Mateen, a truck dispatcher for Heineken, said.