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Bail revoked for driver charged with hitting pedestrians on New Year's Eve

Bail was revoked Thursday morning for a motorist accused of running down and severely injuring three pedestrians on Richmond Avenue in the first hour of the new year.

Abdikadir M. Jaffar, 31, has been free on $100,000 bail following his arrest at the scene of the New Year's Eve crash on charges of drunken driving. However, an Erie County grand jury recently indicted Jaffar on eight felony charges, including two counts of vehicular assault, three counts of aggravated vehicular assault and three counts of third degree assault, plus one misdemeanor assault charge.

With the elevated charges, Jaffar now faces the possibility of up to 15 years in jail if he is found guilty.

In asking that bail be revoked, prosecutor Kelley A. Omel told Judge Kenneth F. Case that Jaffar's blood alcohol content after the crash was measured at 0.22 percent, nearly three times the legal limit. She said Jaffar recklessly struck another vehicle with his 2011 Prius, then struck and snapped a utility pole before driving onto a sidewalk and hitting a group of pedestrians coming back from watching the New Year's ball drop.

After the car hit the pedestrians, it struck a parked car before returning to the street, where witnesses surrounded the vehicle and kept Jaffar from leaving, according to authorities. As the result of the crash, a 15-year-old City Honors basketball player lost his left leg, a 62-year-old man sustained two broken legs, a fractured pelvis, injured shoulder and concussion, and a 14-year-old suffered a concussion and back injuries that caused him to miss months of school. A passenger in the first car struck also suffered a concussion.

District Attorney John J. Flynn said the higher felony charges were the result of the serious nature of the injuries.

Jaffar came to the United States in 2006 as a refugee from Somalia and became a U.S. citizen in 2012. He was working for a yogurt company in Utica and visiting his family in Buffalo when the crash happened. He has since lost his job and is living with his wife and seven children in Buffalo, his attorney said.

Defense attorney TheArthur A. Duncan asked the judge to continue bail as posted, saying his client was not a flight risk and was cooperating in the investigation. He also suggested there could be "mitigating circumstances" behind what happened that night. Outside of court, Duncan said Jaffar was not usually a drinker and was with some people he didn't know well on New Year's Eve. Duncan said he has hired a private investigator to look into whether someone slipped something into Jaffar's drink that evening that would have affected his behavior.

Flynn dismissed the idea that Jaffar was unknowingly drugged.

"As far as I know there's no pill, no way, to increase someone's blood alcohol content with a 'mickey,' " Flynn said. "If someone was pouring shots down his throat, well, there's no evidence of that either."

The district attorney said that the fact that the crash occurred on New Year's was particularly troubling.

"People are out and about, people are walking around. These two young kids were walking back from the ball drop," he said. "We don't want people mowing them down."

Jaffar returns to court June 9 for pretrial conferences, at which time the judge said he also would be willing to hear further motions regarding bail.

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