MANHATTAN — A yellow cab driver who struck and killed a woman crossing the street on the Upper East Side last month is the first in the city to face criminal charges that carry potential jail time under a stricter new city law that took effect just a week before the crash.
Taxi driver MD Hossain, 29, of The Bronx, was arrested last week on misdemeanor charges of failure to yield to a pedestrian resulting in injury or death and failure to exercise due care. His license was suspended and he faces up to 30 days in prison if convicted, as well as civil charges and a $250 fine per misdemeanor, authorities said.
The charges came after nearly a monthlong probe by the NYPD Collision Investigations Squad into the Aug. 29 crash that killed Silvia Gallo, 58, of the Upper East Side as she headed home from getting her iPad fixed at the nearby Apple store, according to police and reports.
The crash happened shortly after Gallo had a phone call with her son, the renowned MMA fighter Jorge Gurgel, at his studio in Cincinnati, according to reports.
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Hossain was driving north on Madison Avenue and made a left turn onto East 79th Street when he hit Gallo, and dragged her body beneath his cab for several feet, police said. A number of good Samaritans hoisted the yellow Nissan NV200 cab off of her in an attempt to save her, but she was later pronounced dead at Lenox Hill Hospital.
Neither Hossain nor his lawyer could be reached for comment.
A spokesman for the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission said the agency would await the conclusion of the criminal charges before seeking to revoke Hossain's license. They declined to release Hossain's driving record.
Previously, motorists who injured or killed pedestrians or cyclists were rarely charged with more than a traffic violation unless they were found to be intoxicated or had fled the crash scene. But in an attempt to pressure motorists — particularly cabbies — in the Big Apple to yield to pedestrians, the City Council passed the new code last May and de Blasio signed the bill — “Administrative Code 19-190” — into law soon after.
Since the law went into effect Aug. 22, however, motorists have killed at least six pedestrians and injured several others without being charged. And several relatives of those crash victims and advocates have pushed for the TLC and the NYPD to enforce the laws more strongly.
Friends of Gallo, who taught at the Equinox gym at Columbus Circle, said they are devastated by her death but glad the driver is being held accountable.
"That's good," said Mary McKenzie, who worked with Gallo. "It's great they're going to do something."
Gallo, whose husband died of cancer two years ago, had been planning to fly to Ireland the day after the crash to teach and live with a new boyfriend, according to reports and friends.
"She'd light up any room she walked into and was a bundle of energy, such a special person, everyone just loved her," McKenzie said.
Gurgel, 37, said he spoke with his mother less than an hour before she was killed, according to reports.
He said he was teaching class at his JG Martial Arts Academy in Cincinnati when he received the call that she was dead, according to MMAJunkie.com.
“Everybody who knows me knows that she was my hero. The person I am today I owe 100 percent — not 99 percent — 100 percent to her. Everything I am and everything I’ve accomplished is because of her. She believed in me,” Gurgel told the website, adding that in honor of his mother, who was too afraid he'd be hurt to watch any of his matches, he would instead focus instead on his training academy.