Drunk Driver Kills Two in Astoria
by Danielle Mastropiero
Nov 20, 2008 | 1161 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Friends put a picture of Panaiota Demetriou at the site of the accident.
A Long Island man awaiting trial for a murder outside of a Chelsea nightclub in 2006 is accused of killing two more victims during an intoxicated ride in Astoria early Sunday morning.

Daryush Omar was found to have a blood-alcohol level over twice the legal-limit when he blew through a red light at 34th Street and 31st Avenue in his Range Rover, killing livery cab driver Bessy Velasquez, 41, of Brooklyn, and her passenger, Panayiota Demetriou, 30, of Astoria.

The Pakistan national, whose blood alcohol level was .17, was also charged with driving with a suspended license, which stems from his arrest for the 2006 murder of Thomas Whitney, Jr. in Chelsea.

Omar was out of jail, and due back in court on December 12. The trial had been postponed because prosecutors were having difficulty finding witnesses to the incident that could testify.

Velasquez was a mother of 14- and 17-year-old girls, and was working a second job as a cab driver to support her family. Demetriou was a Greek immigrant working on her graduate degree in child psychology at Pace University.

Astoria resident Iris Blitt, who came to see the makeshift memorial for Demetrio and Velasquez at the intersection said she was outraged such a thing could happen.

“He was illegal. He had no license, no insurance, nothing, and this is his second offense,” said Blitt. “My husband drives for a living. This could have been him.”

Police at the scene also arrested Evangelos Fotiou, 42, for allegedly attempting to steal the wallets of the injured as they lay in the street dying. He is charged with interfering with an investigation and larceny.

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