Loved ones remember musician killed in Howard Beach crash

Musician Jimmy Sinisi was driving a 2001 Saturn at the time of the crash, police said. Photo by Robert Stridiron
TimesLedger Newspapers
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Susan Sisini said she was still trying to come to grips with the death of her husband four days after the popular musician was killed in a Howard Beach car crash.

“I never pictured myself as a widow at 36 years old,” she said.

Jimmy Sinisi, 37, had been behind the wheel of a 2001 Saturn, at 159th Avenue and 98th Street, when the vehicle was struck by a 2006 Ford sedan, allegedly driven by James Celauro, 23, according to cops.

Emergency responders were called to the accident scene at about 1 a.m. and took Sinisi to Jamaica Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Celauro, of South Ozone Park, was arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter and driving while ability impaired, the NYPD said. He allegedly blew through a stop sign at the intersection, smashed into Sinisi’s car, jumped the curb and hit two parked cars before crashing through a fence and coming to a stop on a lawn, according to the criminal complaint filed by the Queens district attorney’s office.

When a police officer gave Celauro a breath test, his blood alcohol was allegedly measured at .068, the complaint said. The state legal limit for drunk driving is .08.

Susan Sinisi said she and her husband’s family will push for the maximum punishment if Celauro is convicted.

“This is not a person who should be out and about and out and driving. This is a menace,” she said, “The person that hit Jim’s car the other night took my partner.”

Susan Sinisi said she first met her husband, who would have turned 38 Dec. 11, as a teenager in Woodhaven through her brother.

“I read his poetry before I ever met him and I fell in with his poetry,” she said. “When I finally met him, I was head over heels in love.”

Years later when she was 25, they reconnected at a pub on Jamaica Avenue.

“That was just the beginning of the most wonderful 11 years of my life,” she said. “He is absolutely the love of my life.”

Jimmy and Susan Sinisi had recently settled in Glendale after having to move out of Old Howard Beach following Hurricane Sandy.

“We felt lucky. While we lost pretty much all of our worldly goods, Jimmy was able to recover the hard drive from his Mac,” she said, adding that they had several bags of clothing and friends and family to stay with until they could find someplace else to live.

During the day, Jimmy Sinisi worked as a law clerk, but he was also a prolific musician, his wife said.

Friends at Neirs Tavern in Woodhaven, where Sinisi frequently played shows with his band, Wordy Bums, and often came to eat chicken wings, remembered him as a happy, respectful man.

“Jimmy always went out of his way and did things for people,” said the tavern’s chef, Daniel LaRosa.

LaRosa said the band had a unique sound that combined hip-hop and rock.

“There was nothing that Jim liked better than to get on stage and spit his lyrics and show the crowd what he was made of,” his wife said.

Sinisi, who was also known as “Marvin Gardens,” served as one of Wordy Bums’ two emcees and also helped to write the songs. Susan Sinisi sang backup vocals in the seven-member group.

“Jim was overflowing with creativity and had the talent and the drive to make his creations come to life,” said the band’s drummer Rjae Izm.

“We had our hearts ripped from our chests today,” the group posted on their Facebook page. “Jim was the nucleus, the catalyst, the engine ... The Wordy Bums can never be the same without such an integral part of this machine. We are truly blessed to have shared the stage with him and witness true talent.”

The couple celebrated Thanksgiving with their respective families before spending Friday together. In the evening, Jimmy Sinisi and bandmate Mike Palmer went out for burgers.

“Then I kissed him goodbye and I said, ‘Have fun, bear,’” she said, explaining that she went to bed and was awakened at 3:05 a.m. by a call from Jamaica Hospital.

On Tuesday, a funeral was held, and the following day loved ones brought Jimmy Sinisi’s remains to the crematorium.

“It was unbelievable, the outpouring of people and support and love,” his wife said.

Reach managing editor Christina Santucci by e-mail at by phone at 718-260-4589.

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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