Posted on Aug 19, 2011
Dateline: Queens, NY

A tragic accident in Astoria, Queens, earlier this month took the life of a 10-year-old Australian girl, Sabrina Mangos, and injured eight others.

At 6:35pm on August 8, the Mangos minivan collided with a 2009 Nissan Sentra, crushing the Nissan's front end. The minivan then catapulted on its side. Sabrina was not wearing her seat belt at the time and ended up crushed beneath the minivan, which several witnesses worked to pull off of her as she lay there bleeding. She was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in Queens where she was pronounced dead.

The minivan had also been occupied by her brothers, Sam, 13, and Nicholas, 11, and her parents, Michael, 42, and Valerie, 36. They were staying with their cousins in New Jersey, Dimitris Moutafis, 61, and his wife, Stavroula Moutafis, 55. Mr. Moutafis was driving the minivan. Each of them were taken to nearby hospitals for injuries and were later released.

The family had been on an extended vacation, having visited the Catskills, the Poconos and Niagara Falls. They had just gone to see a Broadway show before the crash and were on their way to a pastry shop in Astoria.

The driver of the Nissan, Richard Portnoy, 55, was shaken and remorseful. A public-housing supervisor, he was on his way to investigate two defunct elevators.


As a practicing accident and wrongful death trial attorney in New York, I deal with tragic accidents like this every day. The most troubling part of this article is the fact that the little girl was not belted in. That's tragically unfortunate. Seat belts are designed to protect you. Why doesn't everyone take advantage of this? If a lawsuit is brought on behalf of the young girl, the defense would be able to argue that 'had she been wearing her seat belt' she would not have suffered significant injuries and would not have been thrown from the car causing her death. That is a significant issue to evaluate when deciding whether an attorney will take on a case like this.


If you would like more information about how negligence and accident cases work in the state of New York, I encourage you to explore my educational website. If you have legal questions,  I urge you to pick up the phone and call me at 516-487-8207 or by e-mail at [email protected] to answer your questions. That's what I do every day. I welcome your call.

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