By Joy Bergmann
Jessenia Fajardo, the driver of the SUV that crashed into Alfred Pocari and a 65-year-old woman on Friday July 19th, contacted WSR last Wednesday, seeking to be “forthcoming” about her actions. It was the same day as a criminal court hearing on her case. A spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said it was a “relatively uneventful appearance” and she is due back in court on August 22nd. Fajardo says her driving license has been suspended pending the outcome of this case.
According to Fajardo, she borrowed a friend’s 2011 Acura RDX on the day of the crash, something she did once or twice a week to take care of errands. “The car isn’t registered to me, insured under my name, title under my name. Nothing.” (A police officer in a prior case had said the vehicle was registered to Fajardo. The DMV told WSR it does not release ownership information.)
Did she know the car was apparently uninsured? “I don’t even know about that.”
At 2:51 p.m. that Friday, she says she left her union carpenter job in Tribeca and headed up the West Side Highway to pick up her five-year-old son from his Harlem daycare. She exited at 79th Street, heading north.
“I wasn’t even going super fast or anything,” she says.
So what happened?
“I really don’t know. I really didn’t even see them.”
She says she has watched the videotape of the crash. “I truly don’t recall seeing the red light at all.”
Fajardo says she was not on the phone or texting. But she admits to being unfocused. “Maybe I was overthinking, like thinking too much.”
Were you thinking about something other than driving? WSR asked.
“Yes, yes, you know, looking but not looking,” she says. “And then they’re on top of my hood.”
“I would never, ever, ever want to injure anyone,” Fajardo says. “I’m not a bad person. I’m very sorry for what I’ve done.”
Fajardo says she was drug and alcohol tested at the scene of the crash at 98th and West End Avenue. “Both came back negative.” Police also confiscated her phone for further investigation.
Fajardo disputed some of the information provided by authorities about her driving record. But this story is not about that.
Early in our 5:45 p.m. Wednesday telephone conversation, Fajardo expressed concern about the victims.
“I found out the people that I hit, their names. I’ve been following their status. I wanted to go visit them but I don’t know how whoever’s there would feel about seeing me.”
After it became clear that Fajardo did not know that Alfred Pocari had died from his injuries, WSR told her.
“WHAT? When?” she cried.
Earlier this morning, WSR replied.
“And the lady?” she asked.
The last update was that she remains in serious condition and has a difficult recovery ahead.
“That’s so messed up. I didn’t want to hurt no one,” she said slowly.
WSR then heard a child’s voice softly saying, “Don’t cry, mommy. Don’t cry.”
After a few seconds, Fajardo continued.
“I just want to be forthcoming with you. This is so messed up that I did that. I don’t want people to see me as a monster.”
Does she have a message for the families?
“I don’t know what to say to them. Sorry doesn’t do anything for them.”