Queens, NY - Illegal Airport Pickup Ends In 7-Mile Cop Chase
Queens, NY - Five French tourists were taken on a hair-raising, seven-mile “ride from hell” yesterday when an illegal van picked up the unsuspecting passengers at JFK Airport and raced through two boroughs to try to shake cops, authorities said.
“We screamed and prayed the whole time we were in the van. God heard us. It was a miracle that we survived,” Esther-Ethy Mamane [Maimonides], 26, of Paris, said in French.
“I am shocked. The whole thing was quite bizarre. We were very frightened,” the still-shaken woman added. “It was like something from a film.”
Gwen Dulugat, 27, also from Paris, said the van—unauthorized to pick up passengers at the airport—took off with a “vroom” when Port Authority cops tried to prevent it from leaving.
“It went very, very fast. We’re going zoom, zoom, zoom,” she said, zigzagging her hand through the air.
One officer described the horrifying tour of Queens and Brooklyn as “the ride from hell.”
“The police were fantastic,” she added. “They were behind us all the time. And we were very lucky not to crash into any cars.”
The nightmare began about 11 a.m. when Esther and her mother, Claudie, 60, also a Parisian, and Gwen and her parents, Michele, 60 and Jean-Jacques, 62, who live near Bordeaux, got off an Air France flight.
A Port Authority source said Ian McFarland, 57—who was at JFK steering tourists to illegal vans—sent the two families to a vehicle driven by Khaalis Preacher, 27, at the Air France terminal.
PA cops recognized McFarland as a longtime “steerer” and Officer Michael Bestany reached inside the van to try to grab the keys, the source said.
The driver floored it, knocking Bestany to the ground.
With cops right behind, the driver roared west along the Belt Parkway and onto Linden Boulevard, forcing other cars to get out of the way.
It then snaked through residential streets, went in circles and crashed through the mechanical gate arm of a US Postal Service facility on Forbell Street in East New York.
Preacher and McFarland jumped out with the van still moving. It slammed into a postal truck.
Cops with guns drawn quickly arrested the two men.
Claudie Mamane injured her arm while trying to jump out while the van was still moving. She was treated at Jamaica Hospital. The four other tourists weren’t hurt.
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