Muslim Taxi Family Reaches Out to Mormon Victims in Fatal Crash
By MARY MURPHYpix11.com | @murphypix
QUEENS, NY (PIX11)— The grieving family of a New York City cab driver who was killed in a rainy night accident on the Long Island Expressway reached out to the Utah relatives of the grandmother who died in the same crash, trying to shield her 11 year old grandson in the back, passenger seat.
“Such a wonderful human being that she sacrificed her life to save her grandchild,” said the cab driver’s cousin, Mohammed Hussain, about 60-year old Suzanne Nicholson.
The grandmother’s husband, Dewayne Nicholson, spoke to PIX 11 by phone from their home in Ogden, Utah. “My wife was found lying over her grandson to protect him,” Nicholson said. “We’re not surprised at all. That’s who she was. ”
Suzanne Nicholson and her 11 year old grandson, Gabriel Larson, had just landed at John F. Kennedy Airport late Friday night, when they hopped into a cab driven by 46-year old Mohammed Hussain, a Bangladeshi-immigrant who’d been driving taxis for more than twenty years. Hussain’s cousin, who has the same name, said the father of two generally never drove on rainy nights, but he was trying to make up lost income–after attending a relative’s wedding in Boston.
As the cab neared the Maurice Avenue exit, while driving west on the Long Island Expressway in Queens, another car apparently cut off the taxi, trying to make the exit. That’s when Hussain slammed on his brakes, the taxi skidding, before it was hit hard by a garbage truck traveling behind the cab. It’s believed Suzanne Nicholson wrapped her body over her young grandson, trying to protect him from injury. Young Gabriel Larson was the only survivor of the taxi crash and had to be cut out of the mangled wreckage by rescue workers. When Larson woke up at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, his grieving parents didn’t have the heart to tell him that his beloved grandmother had died. The boy then started asking about going to a Yankees game.
One of Hussain’s female cousins, Shirrin Rashed, tearfully spoke of the young survivor. “I really do want to hug that little boy,” said Rashed. “I can’t imagine the trauma he went through. But our brother’s not coming back either,” she cried.
The cab driver had two, young sons, 9 year old, Adil, and 13-month old, Aahil.
Adil Hussain spoke to PIX 11, after returning from the burial of his father on Long Island. He shyly gave a message to the 11-year old survivor who lost his grandmother in the crash. “I feel sad for him,” Adil Hussain said.
Following Muslim tradition, Adil’s mother, Rohima Hussain, was beginning a 40 day mourning period in herOzone Park bedroom. PIX 11 was allowed to go inside to meet her. She sobbed as she recalled that her husband of eleven years was a “good man” who’d never had an accident in his twenty years of driving a cab. She clutched a prayer book in her lap, while her husband’s aunt read from the Koran in the living room.
The Nicholson family of Utah are also deeply religious–devout Mormons who pray to Jesus Christ in times of crisis.
Dewayne Nicholson told PIX 11 he was concerned for the sanitation truck driver who smashed into the cab. Nicholson had read about the man on the web. “It really hit me hard what this man’s going through,” Nicholson said. “My prayers are with him. I hope he can get over this.”
Nicholson said he was deeply moved by reports of the rescue workers who are still visiting his grandson at Elmhurst Hospital, where Gabriel Larson’s mother and father are keeping a vigil by the boy’s side.
“Of course, we here in Utah witnessed powerfully how New York reacts to tragedy on 9/11,” Nicholson said, referring to the terrorism attacks more than a decade ago. “Now we’re seeing it again.”