Driver Who Struck, Killed Pedestrian Had 30 License Suspensions, Police Say

Police have arrested a Long Island man for driving with more than two dozen license suspensions after a motor vehicle crash that killed a pedestrian.

Suffolk County police say 36-year-old Richard Turner of Massapequa was driving on Sunrise Highway in Copiague around 6:30 p.m. Thursday when he struck a pedestrian, Fausto Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, 38, was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Pedro Espinal, a friend of the victim, said Rodriguez, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, was killed while running a routine family errand.

"He was going to the drugstore to get medicine for his mother, who had problems with her heart," he said.

A law enforcement source told NBC 4 New York that Turner told police he didn't see Rodriguez, who was wearing dark clothing and crossed the street 10 yards from the nearest crosswalk. 

Still, police say, Turner shouldn't have been driving at all. A police investigation determined that Turner had 30 license suspensions from ignoring more than two dozen traffic infractions from 10 separate incidents dating back nearly 16 years. 

"Driving is a privilege, not a right," said Suffolk COunty Police Chief Stuart Cameron. 

Turner has been charged with a felony, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

Turner's attorney, Doug Byrne, called the deadly crash "a tragedy," noting that his client stayed at the scene and called 911.

Dawn Nappi, whose 14-year-old daughter Angelica was killed by an unlicensed driver in 2008, has been lobbying Albany lawmakers in vain ever since to increase criminal penalties in such cases. 

"It absolutely sickens me. I am so tired of hearing this time and time again," she said. 

"Do you care about lives or do you not care about lives? People should not be driving without a license, point blank," said Nappi. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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