Photo: Gregory P. Mango
Supermodel Tyson Beckford’s nephew stole a delivery truck in the West Village and crashed it into a city bus early Wednesday morning – killing the veteran driver – just hours after both men were partying at Beckford’s Victoria’s Secret model girlfriend’s birthday, authorities said.
The horrific wreck happened about 5:30 a.m. at Seventh Avenue and West 14th Street when the hard-partying Domonic Whilby, 23, stole a box truck marked 18 Rabbits Granola and slammed it into the articulated M14 bus driven by William Pena, 50, cops and police sources said.
Whilby celebrated the 23rd birthday of Australian-born model Shanina Shaik Tuesday night along with his famous uncle, according to his Instagram account where he posted photos of himself with the scantily-clad stunner.
“Free spirited wild child. I’m a smoker, religious stoner If you must. Smiles and Hugs will bring us together. Follow me bro ill follow back!” the unhinged Whilby said on his page.
Beckford called Whilby, “My nehew” on Instagram, while other photos on the site showed Whilby hoisting drinks as he celebrated.
Whilby, who hails from Griffin, GA suffered just minor injuries was in police custody at Bellevue and charges were pending, sources said.
Alex Pena, 40, called his late brother “the best” and said his wife Nancy and teenage daughter were shattered.
“He loved everything. He was a great guy, no trouble, nothing. He was just a great guy in every way you put it. It’s a tragedy this had to happen. We’re grieving. It takes time. It’s just begun,” he said.
Neighbor Claudio Diaz, 88, said he burst into tears when he heard about the death of his friend.
Bus driver William Pena
“A wonderful guy. That was his work for years. It was his life. He loved his job. The wife, the daughter, must be destroyed,” Diaz said.
The bus also clipped a scooter, slightly injuring the driver. The food cart vendor and a customer were also slightly injured, as was a passenger on the bus, sources said. All were treated and released from local hospitals.
Transit sources said police were pursuing the truck prior to the crash while the NYPD insisted they were looking for the stolen truck — registered to Exclusive Beverage Distribution of Farmingdale — but were not chasing it.
Police responded to the address on the report of a robbery, and the driver told them, “My truck was just stolen,” sources said.
Cops put out a description of the vehicle and began canvassing the area.
“We came across the accident, there was no pursuit,” a police source said. “The perp was in the cab of the truck.
“When we came upon him he was unconscious. He regained consciousness in the ambulance on the way to Bellevue.”
Sources said he also struck several parked cars on West 16th Street and on Eighth Avenue before the accident.
The food cart vendor, Ashraf Marei, was inside his cart when it was hit, his cousin said.
“I heard a big boom. It was a big noise. I ran over and the bus was inside the scaffolding. My cousin was inside the food cart. He was screaming. Hot water burned his body,” said Ehmad Shehata.
Marei was also taken to Bellevue, where he was treated and released.
Witness Craig Ydolly, 41, an AM New York dealer from Midtown, was on Seventh Avenue just south of the intersection when he heard the crash behind him and spun around to check it out.
“I heard a boom. The bus just kept going, it went into the building. I thought it would stop but it kept going. I saw a man lying on the ground. It hit the scaffolding and it came down,” he said.
MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast called for authorities to throw the book at the driver of the stolen truck.
“The entire MTA mourns the tragic loss of Mr. Pena, especially his colleagues at the Michael J. Quill Bus Depot in Manhattan,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Pena’s family, and we are working closely with law enforcement to ensure the perpetrator of this crime is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
John Samuelsen, president of TWU Local 100, called driving a bus “an incredibly dangerous job” while mourning Pena’s loss.
“Today demonstrates how dangerous it can be. They face three assaults a week. In addition to assaults, we drive on the most hazardous streets in the world. The driving conditions are horrific,” he said.
Richard Davis, TWU Local 100 division chair, called Pena a great worker while visiting the Quill Depot on the West Side after the crash.
“It’s such a terrible tragedy. Everyone around here is in a deep depression. Brother Pena was such a good person, a good family man, husband and father. He was a great worker, great record on the job, really well liked. I’ve never seen the depot this quiet,” he said.
Pena was the first city bus driver killed in the line of duty since father-of-two Edwin Thomas was stabbed to death by a deadbeat on a Brooklyn bus in December 2008.
The MTA said Pena was the first driver killed in a collision in more than 14 years.
An employee at Exclusive Beverage confirmed their truck had been stolen but declined comment further.
The San Francisco-based 18 Rabbits Granola company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Article courtesy of the wonderful reporters over at the NY POST:
Additional reporting by Larry Celona, Rebecca Harshbarger and Erin Calabrese.