D.A. says Beekman suspect almost hit children in addition to ramming into a mom


BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC  | Tiffany Murdaugh pleaded not guilty Wednesday in a hit and run case that shook the Lower Manhattan community and left a woman seriously injured.

Tiffany Murdaugh plead not guilty in criminal court on Wednesday. Downtown Express photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic
Tiffany Murdaugh plead not guilty in criminal court on Wednesday. Downtown Express photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic

Assistant District Attorney Philip J. Gary asked Judge Gregory Carro in criminal court at 100 Centre St. to increase bail to $100,000 because of the defendant’s “depraved actions.” Murdaugh, 34, is currently out on bail.

Video from the incident clearly depicts Murdaugh’s car going onto the sidewalk and “pedestrians jumping into the middle of Beekman St.” to avoid it, said Gary. Saying that she was going 20 to 25 miles per hour on the street, Gary said the video also shows a mother of two, who was on her way to Spruce Street School, pushing her children into the street to avoid the car.

Gary also focused on the victim, who he did not mention by name, but is Heather Hensl, 37, a mother of two who was on her way to work when she was struck at around 8 a.m. on April 13. She was thrown into the air and suffered a laceration to her head and could not walk for months, he said. She has just started to walk again without the aid of crutches, but will suffer the effects of the incident for the rest of her life, said Gary.

After leaving the scene at Beekman St., Gary said Murdaugh then went over the Brooklyn Bridge and got into another accident in Crown Heights. Her car rear ended another car. When the other driver got out, Murdaugh fled the scene, leaving her car there, said Gary.

Murdaugh did not answer Downtown Express questions as she left the courthouse. She appeared to be crying after she left and her family shielded her.

A Legal Aid lawyer filled in for Lamar Miller, also of Legal Aid, who had been handling Murdaugh’s case. He said all these facts were presented when bail was first set. He also said that Murdaugh just completed a three-year training program and is part of the Union Cement Mason. Originally thought to be a New Jersey resident, Murdaugh resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her family sat in the court to support to her.

While Judge Carro did note the price — $35,000 — of the car, a 2013 Dodge Challenger, he denied the increase in bail. He did say, however, that Murdaugh was to hire a private attorney by her next appearance in court on Aug. 11.

Hensl, who works as a physician assistant at New York Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, was worried at one point that the investigation would be dropped. After identifying Murdaugh as the owner of the car, police initially said she would only be charged with a misdemeanor if they were able to prove she was driving. Spruce Street School parents and the community were outraged that the incident happened during morning drop-off and pushed for an arrest.

Murdaugh was arrested on May 19 after admitting to a detective at the First Precinct that she was driving the car, according to the complaint from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.’s office. She has been charged with assault in the first degree and second degree — both felonies — reckless endangerment of in the first degree and leaving the scene of the incident without reporting.

Vance, in a statement, called Murdaugh’s alleged actions “egregious….There is no place for this type of recklessness in New York City.”