A garbage truck driver drank two beers and ate a chicken salad sandwich — which his lawyer claims may have absorbed the alcohol — before he struck and killed an Australian tourist in New York City on Friday, police said.
Felipe Chairez, 44, faced several charges including driving while intoxicated after Madison Jane Lyden was struck by a garbage truck and killed. The 23-year-old tourist was riding a rental bike just before 5 p.m. Friday near Central Park when she swerved to avoid an Uber that went into the bike lane, police said.
As she was avoiding the car, Chairez slammed the sanitation truck he was driving into Lyden, police said.
She was taken to the hospital with severe body trauma and later pronounced dead.
Chairez remained at the scene and admitted to police he drank two beers before he got behind the wheel, the New York Post reported, citing court documents. Authorities also found three empty beer cans inside the truck.
During his arraignment Saturday, Chairez’s lawyer provided a bizarre explanation on why his client may not have been drunk driving.
“If he had a chicken salad sandwich, the alcohol may have been absorbed by the lunch he had,” lawyer Kenneth Ware said in court.
Police said Chairez’s blood-alcohol level when the fatal crash happened was between .04 and .06.
Lyden grew up in southern Tasmania and is the daughter of a couple known to support local charities, news.com.au reported. She worked as a swim instructor, lifeguard and receptionist. She was in New York City on vacation with friends.
Her grieving father told Southern Cross News that she spoke to his daughter the day before her death.
“She had only spoken to me the previous day, or the day before, and said ‘Dad, can you believe your little girl is in New York City?’” the father told the news station. “And for her to be taken from us in such a horrific way is gut wrenching. Words can’t describe how heartbreaking this is.”