Alleged Drunk Driver Pleads Not Guilty to Charges in Deadly Fourth of July NYC Crash

Rachel Acenas
By Rachel Acenas
July 7, 2024New York
Alleged Drunk Driver Pleads Not Guilty to Charges in Deadly Fourth of July NYC Crash
An NYPD police car in New York in a file photo. (Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

The suspected drunk driver of a deadly Fourth of July crash in New York City has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Daniel Christopher Hyden, 44, was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular assault, manslaughter, assault, and operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

Mr. Hyden pleaded not guilty to all the charges during an arraignment hearing on Saturday.

According to jail records, he is being held without bail.

Mr. Hyden was driving a Ford F-150 truck when he allegedly plowed into a crowd at Corlears Hook Park in the Lower East Side around 9 p.m. on July 4. Officials said a group was celebrating the holiday when the vehicle barreled through an intersection and into the park.

Authorities said he was speeding and struck a total of 11 pedestrians inside the park.

He was driving under the influence, according to police.

“Responding officers who did arrive on the scene did smell some alcohol,” New York Police Department (NYPD) Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said during a police briefing. “There were people who were there at the scene who grabbed the driver, removed the driver, and made sure the driver didn’t leave.”

Authorities also said he was driving with a suspended license at the time of the incident.

Three people were killed. The NYPD identified the victims as Ana Morel, 43, Lucille Pinkney, 59, and her son Hernan Pinkney, 38.

Eight others, including an 11-year-old boy, were injured in the crash.

“We had a tragic incident which took place here,” New York Mayor Eric Adams told the media. “A driver drove into a crowd of people who were actually just celebrating, like so many New Yorkers and Americans are doing right now.”

Mr. Hyden ignored reporters’ questions Friday afternoon as he was escorted by police out of the NYPD’s 7th precinct. He held his head down as several people, including relatives of the victims, heckled and yelled expletives at him.

“This is just one of those tragic incidents that’s really going to impact this community,” the mayor said.

NTD News reached out to Mr. Hyden’s attorney but did not get a response.

According to arrest records, Mr. Hyden is due back in Manhattan Criminal Court on July 10.