Thursday, April 23, 2009
Hit and Run Driver Kills Deliveryman
Charged With Leaving the Scene and Driving While Intoxicated
By Patricia Adams
The 27-year-old driver involved in Saturday night’s hit and run on Jamaica Avenue was released on $30,000 bail after being arraigned on Sunday in Queens Criminal Court. Sources say Gus Pappeliou’s father posted his bail. Pappaeliou was charged with criminally negligent homicide, operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and vehicular manslaughter in the second degree.
Pappaeliou is accused of striking 42-year-old You Yuan Zhou, as he drove his scooter to make a delivery for the China House Restaurant on Jamaica Ave around 11:45 PM Saturday night. Witnesses watched in horror as Pappeliou’s Volkswagen Jetta sped into Zhou’s scooter, sending him off the bike and up into the air. Seconds later he hit the ground dead, his helmet and a sneaker yards behind his body.
A half-block from the body lay the crushed scooter, which was dislodged after Pappaeliou threw his car into reverse in an attempt to get the scooter off his car. Witnesses were not surprised that the driver left the scene of the accident. One man, who identified himself as John, is a regular customer at Sam’s Deli on the corner of 80th street.
“These kids think this is a speedway. Just a few weeks ago that other woman was killed on the avenue the same way. They kill people with their cars and just keep going. Animals.” On April 8, 71-year-old Virginia Montalvo was killed on Jamaica Avenue by a hit and run driver as she made her way across the street collecting bottles and cans for recycling.
Zhou was pronounced dead at the scene - a crushed Volkswagen hood ornament left behind showing the impact of the hit that killed him instantly. A father of two, Zhou came to America a little more than 10 years ago, seeking a better life for his wife and children.
“He was a really nice guy,” said a resident who knew deliveryman as quiet, smiling guy. “We used to call him Bruce. It’s such a shame. He was a good guy, a hard worker who really cared about his family. Especially his kids.”
Now friends and family say his wife and children are faced with a tremendous financial struggle as well as the tragic death of the man who supported them by working six long days every week. “My father was kind,” 18-year-old Kai Qiang Zhou told reporters. “I didn’t believe it when I first heard this.” The freshman at New York City College of Technology wonders now how he will continue with the education his father dreamed of for him. “He always said, “You have to stay in school. You’ll get a good job and be able to spend more time with your family.”
Hours after the incident, police went to the home of Gus Pappaeliou, blocks away on 78th street and 85th Avenue. There they found the red Jetta, behind a fence at the house. The grill of the car was shattered, its front windshield blown out.
Pappaeliou surrendered without protest but refused comment without an attorney. Seen on the news, the young man seemed calm, as though he were unaffected. Before getting in to a waiting squad car, he looked back toward his house. “Bye mom. I’ll see you later. I love you.” Pappaeliou was smiling. A date of May 4 has been scheduled for Pappeliou’s return to court.