By Natesha Folkes
A Forest Hills woman is facing felony charges in connection with the death of a 21-year-old York College Occupational Therapy student struck and killed by a Porsche in June, police said.
The accident, which killed Doniqueca Cooke just a block from her home, also injured three other people, one critically. Her mother, Juliane Williams, also a student at York, had planned to study nursing and graduate alongside her daughter.
“I can’t come back to my normal life,” Williams said. “I just don’t know how I can come back to school or anything. I need help.”
The driver, Vivian Lee, 56, was charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident and remains free on $200,000 bail. She is due back in court on Dec. 1.
On June 30, Lee was speeding west on the Horace Harding Expressway service road in a black SUV trying to beat a yellow light when she lost control near the intersection of Junction Boulevard, police said. Her vehicle jumped a curb, hit a tree then struck Cooke, witnesses told police. She then hit a 26-year-old bicyclist, a taxi and a mini Cooper, injuring three more people.
Lee and a passenger fled the wreckage of the Porsche on foot, but Lee later returned to the scene and was arrested. Cooke was taken to Elmhurst hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Cooke, who was known to her friends a “Niiqa,” aspired to be an occupational therapist.
Williams said that since her daughter’s death she has not been able to stay in the apartment they shared because the memories have been too much to handle.
“Every morning I just lie down. I can’t move,” she said. “Recently was my first time staying alone, it’s so hard for me”
Williams said she still has a voicemail that her daughter left her but she does not listen to it.
“It will make me scream,” she said. “I’m so devastated when I hear her voice.”
Friends of Cooke said she was a very studious person, and was always ready to lend a helping hand. Her best friend, Latisha Ashley James, also a York Health Promotions major, said Cooke would always help her friends with their work.
“Even though she had her work to do, if somebody needed extra help with their work, she helped them out,” said James. “She was easily able to balance her time and someone else’s time to get her work done and help them with their work.”
Some friends also said that Cooke was the leader, a fashionista, and loved life. James said she always had ideas of places for them to visit..
“She always wanted us to do something,” said James. “She’d say ‘This is coming up next, what hairstyle should I do to my hair?’ She was basically the one that had all the plans, always trying to get me out of the house.”
Williams said that her daughter was a fun-loving person, and her best friend.
“We went out together, we had fun together,” Williams said. “We sleep together, we eat together, we took lunch together, we did everything together.”
Williams said she cannot express the way she feels about Lee, the driver of the vehicle that killed her daughter..
“I feel anger, I feel sadness, I feel hurt,” said Williams. “The worst word in the world wouldn’t be good enough to tell this woman.”
A funeral service was held for Cooke at Corona Seventh Day Adventist Church and she was laid to rest at Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens. Family and friends also put together a prayer vigil where the accident occurred. Cookes’ family and friends miss her greatly and plan to honor her memory. James said that her birthday is coming up and she would like to plan something.
“Her birthday is November 6th, and she was very serious about her birthday,” said James. “She would plan her birthday months in advance, so that’s probably the best time that all of her girlfriends can get together.”
As of press time, a gofundme page seeking to help the family defray the expense of Cooke’s funeral and burial had raised $5,815 of the $15,000 total they are hoping to raise. Anyone wishing to donate can go to www.gofundme.com/doniquecacooke.