An 18-year-old Bronx man who was driving his father’s car with only a learner’s permit -- and was high on cocaine and marijuana -- drove the wrong way inside a New York City tunnel last month and crashed into an Uber driver, police said Wednesday.
Driving his father’s black Jeep Patriot, Jorje Beato smashed through a barrier and entered the wrong side of the Queens-Midtown Tunnel tunnel around 1:30 a.m. April 28, authorities said. The tunnel carries vehicular traffic between Midtown Manhattan and the borough of Queens, under the East River. It is operated by the state Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Bridges and Tunnels division.
Beato was driving more than 60 mph when he crashed into Uber driver Zafar Iqbal’s white Toyota Highlander about a half mile into the tube, the New York Daily News reported. The suspect then ran from the wreckage before pointing a gun at an approaching police officer, officials said. The officer restrained from firing after realizing Beato was holding only a cellphone, the report said.
“I don‘t know how this guy got into the tunnel,” Iqbal, a 37-year-old father of two, said. “They need more protection for that. It’s very dangerous, it’s a nightmare for me.”
The officer reportedly struggled to restrain Beato before taking him into custody, the Daily News reported. The suspect told officers he was on his way to a hotel and complained about his marijuana being confiscated, the report said.
Beato was charged with reckless driving, drug possession, marijuana possession, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and leaving the scene of an accident with injuries, the report said.
The Uber driver and his passenger were taken to a hospital where they were treated for neck and back injuries before being released, WCBS-TV reported.
Beato reportedly had a warrant for domestic violence felony assault with a vehicle and three prior sealed arrests and convictions.