Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Police Chase Leads To Death Of Nun, 83

Several Also Injured Following Wild Pursuit In Harlem

John Slattery

HARLEM (CBS) ― There was horror in Harlem on Tuesday when an 83-year-old nun was killed and four others were injured in police chase that turned into a mangled mess on Lenox Avenue.

It was a horrendous, near head-on collision that happened around 9:30 a.m and killed Sister Mary Celine Graham. Police, investigating an armed robbery, had stopped a blue mini-van at 141st Street and Lenox Avenue. As they questioned the driver outside the vehicle, a passenger jumped behind the wheel and took off – and the police followed.

A mile away, at 122nd Street and Lenox, there was a crash.

"I heard a big bang," said witness Anthony Jones. "Smoke coming up in the air."

"Like a bomb exploded," said witness Wayne Harris.

Witnesses said a tan Honda Odyssey with New Jersey plates, driven by a woman with a 15-year-old boy inside, pulled into the intersection with the light.

"The lady in the Odyssey, she went around me and when the light turned green she went. As soon as she went ... he ran the light and hit her head on," Harris said. "Bodies were flying everywhere, [there was] a body on the other side."

"I just heard a loud bang," added witness Ernest Reeves.

Two suspects in the blue van ran off, leaving death and injury behind. Sister Graham, who suffered from Parkinson's, lived in a convent just three blocks away, the Franciscan Handmaids of Mary.

At the convent Tuesday afternoon, friends of the victim were too distraught to speak of the tragedy.

A 58-year-old woman and a 26-year-old man who worked near the scene of the accident were also injured.

"When we came out of the building my best friend on the floor," said a friend of a victim. "That's enough for me."

A search is still underway and an investigation ongoing.

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