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Murder charges laid against man who allegedly left Indian-American woman in burning car

Harleen Grewal (Facebook via news reports)

The man who allegedly caused the death of an Indian-American woman when she was left in a burning car as he hailed a cab to go to hospital, has been charged with murder.

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced Oct. 26, that 23-year-old Saeed Ahmad was indicted on second-degree murder (depraved indifference murder), second-degree vehicular manslaughter and related counts for allegedly causing a car crash on the Gowanus Expressway and fleeing the scene with his passenger, Harleen Grewal, 25, stranded inside the burning car, leaving her to die.

“This defendant’s alleged actions before and after crashing his car caused the death of a vibrant young woman who had her entire life ahead of her. He showed complete disregard for human life and for the safety of everyone using our roadways, making the very serious charges he now faces wholly appropriate,” Gonzalez is quoted saying in a press release.

Ahmad, a resident of Marine Park, Brooklyn, was arraigned Oct. 26, before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Neil Firetog, and pleaded not guilty. The other related charges against Ahmad include leaving the scene of an accident, driving while intoxicated and related counts. He was ordered held without bail and to return to court on January 12, 2018. Ahmad faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top count.

Laying out the scene of the fateful accident Oct. 13, Gonzalez said that at approximately 4 a.m., the defendant was driving an Infinity sedan, returning from a night out in Manhattan with Grewal.

According to police the evidence showed that Ahmad was driving in an “excessive rate of speed” when he attempted to pass other vehicles and crashed his car into a side barrier between the Hamilton Avenue and the Prospect Expressway exits, causing it to explode and burst into flames. “He got out of the burning car, got into a cab and left without calling 911 or alerting anyone that the victim was still in the vehicle,” police say. Grewal subsequently died and her remains were recovered from the scene after the fire was put out.

Saeed was arrested later that morning and tests determined that his blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was above the legal limit of .08.

According to a New York Post report, when Ahmad appeared in court, burn healing marks were visible on his neck and arms. Family members told the Post earlier that Ahmad tried to save Grewal and when he failed, he hailed a cab and took it to the hospital.

A video that ABC 7 news acquired, and which is posted on the New York Post website shows the car on fire and a man walking away to a waiting taxi. “Can I get a ride?” the man can be heard saying before being driven away.