Car Wash Tragedy Mother of 3 Dead, Employee Charged with Vehicular Homicide

Car Wash Tragedy Mother of 3 Dead, Employee Charged with Vehicular Homicide

Photo by Miguel Reyes

A 53-year-old woman was killed at the popular Crossbay Car Wash in Ozone Park when an intoxicated employee struck her with another customer’s vehicle.

By Forum Staff

A visit to Crossbay Car Wash in Ozone Park on Monday afternoon turned deadly for Tracie McManus, a 53-year-old, widowed mother of three, who was at the car wash with her daughter Megan.

McManus was waiting to retrieve her car when car wash employee Edwin Vargas was moving another car off the cleaning rack, striking her.

Responding police transported Vargas, 43, to the 112th Police Precinct where he provided a breath sample that showed his blood alcohol content as .115. The legal limit is .08.

Vargas, of 102nd Street in Richmond Hill, was arraigned late last night before Queens Criminal Court Judge Jerry Iannece on a complaint charging him with vehicular manslaughter in the second degree and driving while intoxicated. Judge Iannece set the defendant’s return date for February 19.

According to the charges, just before 2 p.m. on Monday, February 15, 2021, Vargas was working at the car wash and lube shop on Cross Bay Boulevard at Desarc Road at the same time the victim, Tracie McManus was there getting her car washed. The defendant was removing autos from the washing rack and driving them onto the adjacent lot to be hand-dried by his fellow employees.

Vargas was behind the wheel of another customer’s 2011 gray Jeep Liberty when he drove the vehicle off the cleaning rack and slammed into the 54-year-old victim, who was walking towards her car after tipping other workers. Ms. McManus was rushed to a nearby hospital where she succumbed to her injuries.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz expressed disdain over the tragic sequence of events. “If you have a job that requires you to get behind the wheel of a vehicle, coming to work intoxicated is selfish and dangerous, with potentially fatal consequences.

This is a heart-breaking, senseless tragedy and a woman who just wanted to get her car washed is dead… He is in custody and faces serious charges.”

Dozens of comments flooded Facebook with messages of support for the family and outrage over the fact that Vargas was driving drunk.

One comment targeted the car wash owners and its manager, “…because of your ignorance and inability to control your workers, a family has to lose a great woman.”


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