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Hit-run driver kills Astoria granny: DA

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Nick Drossos, 22, of 20-15 20th St. was charged with criminally negligent homicide and leaving the scene of an accident at 9 a.m., a half hour after Agnes DeCristino was mowed down by a speeding car in front of her 23rd Street house, police said.

Drossos was arraigned last Thursday in Queens Criminal Court before Judge Lenore Gerald, who set bail at $100,000 and a return date of June 3. In addition to homicide and leaving the scene of an accident, he was charged with unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and reckless driving. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Officers Danish Malhotra and Michael Moran of the 114th Precinct stopped Drossos' 1990 Chevy Lumina after he allegedly made an illegal turn near Crescent Street and Astoria Boulevard. They arrested the self-employed plumber after noticing blood and brain matter on the grill, police said.

The DA said Drossos' driver's license had been suspended several times, most recently on Aug. 11, after he pleaded guilty to driving while impaired. He served 30 days in prison for the offense, the DA said.

The night before DeCristino was killed, Brown said Drossos stayed up until the morning drinking, although his blood-alcohol content was legal at the time of his arrest.

DeCristino was returning from morning errands when a vehicle struck her just yards from her front door, her family said. Her arms full of groceries, she flew across the street after she was hit, landing on her back, where she lay moaning. The impact was loud enough to startle a neighbor.

"I was upstairs and I hear the 'boom!'" said Niki Theoharapoulos, a neighbor. "I thought it was the door - not an accident."

A widow who stayed active after her husband died of cancer 12 years ago, DeCristino was looking forward to her grandson's high school graduation in June, said Albert DeCristino, 57, her son.

The last time he saw his mother was that morning, when she dropped him off at the train station before work. Albert DeCristino said she was close with her family and was getting ready for a niece's baby shower on Saturday.

"She was very generous with her time," said Jean Vernillo, 57, a niece who lives on her block. "She was just a wonderful lady. She was warm and friendly."

Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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