It wasn’t that long ago that we wrote about the American Legion Woodhaven Post 118’s Garden of Remembrance. Before long, they’ll put it out again in time for Memorial Day.
Last weekend, the Forest Park Carousel closed its gates on 2013, but we won’t have to wait long before we have another chance to visit our landmarked piece of history when it reopens in May of 2014.
So, although we have a cold winter to deal with, it’s comforting to know that May is just around the corner, not too far ahead on the calendar.
May is also when Viveshdyal Thakoordyal will walk out of jail a free man, having paid his debt to society for driving drunk through Woodhaven and killing John Eberling at 80th Street and Jamaica Avenue earlier this year. Viveshdyal Thakoordyal will be out in plenty of time to enjoy next summer.
Thakoordyal pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated, and was supposed to be sentenced last Thursday. But the judge didn’t show and the sentencing was adjourned until Tuesday, November 26. He could have been facing 15 years, but it appears that the Office of the Queens District Attorney secured that guilty plea in return for a six-month sentence.
Six months or 180 days. That is what your life is worth in New York.
Thakoordyal was detained at the scene of the crime and failed a breathalyzer test administered by police. Just a few feet away, the body of John Eberling lay under a sheet. Thakoordyal was arrested and eventually made bail. John Eberling’s family planned his wake and funeral.
Viveshdyal Thakoordyal spent this summer with his family. John Eberling was dead and buried.
We’ve since learned that this wasn’t Thakoordyal’s first alcohol-related brush with the law. It’s been reported that he had one prior conviction for driving while intoxicated. When he drunkenly drove along Jamaica Avenue, this wasn’t entirely out of character. And because of the reckless behavior of Viveshdyal Thakoordyal a man had to pay with his life.
It was just fate that led Mr. Eberling to be crossing Jamaica Avenue at that moment. It could have been any of us crossing the street at that time. My mom crosses Jamaica Avenue all the time. So does my wife. So do all our moms and dads and wives and uncles. And so do many of our children.
And now we find out that all of our lives – the lives of all your loved ones – are worth just six months.
Just a few weeks ago, we attended a presentation at the Humanities and the Arts Magnet High School in Cambria Heights sponsored by the Office of the Queens District Attorney. The meeting was part of an initiative called “Speak Up for Your Community!” and featured the families of crime victims.
As everyone was waiting for the meeting to begin, they presented a slide show of photographs of crime victims throughout New York.
John Eberling of Woodhaven was among the victims they honored.
But now it appears that this honor was short lived. For while they were presenting Mr. Eberling as the kind of victim we should all speak up for, they were also negotiating a deal with Viveshdyal Thakoordyal’s attorneys that would set him free before summer.
The family of John Eberling will go before the judge next week and ask that Viveshdyal Thakoordyal receive the maximum sentence. The residents of Woodhaven urge the judge to honor the wishes of the Eberling family and send a clear message to people everywhere that your lives have value; that your life is worth more than six months.
And we urge the judge to ensure that Viveshdyal Thakoordyal is punished to the maximum to send a clear message that if you break this law, you will suffer severe consequences. Anything less than that is not justice, but yet another crime.