2006_12_crowley.jpgA terrible aftermath to Representative Joseph Crowley's holiday party. His staffer Eileen Gillepsie was driving with best friend and former staffer Peggy Bartichek afterwards, and Gillepsie drove down the wrong way on a Queens street. Her car was hit by a town car and "slammed" into a parked truck. From the NY Times:

They were headed home about 12:50 a.m. yesterday, the police said, when Ms. Gillespie, heading south on 69th Street in Elmhurst, failed to turn off it where it became one way northbound, near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, and was hit by a Lincoln Town Car, which pushed her car into a parked pickup truck. There are do-not-enter signs at 34th Avenue, where southbound traffic is supposed to turn off 69th Street.

Seventy-four year old Bartichek was pronounced dead while 69 year old Gillepsie suffered minor injuries. While the restaurant where the informal office party was held told the Daily News that the guests only had one glass each, Gillepsie reportedly told police she had 2-3 glasses of wine. She refused to take a breathalyzer test, but the hospital took a court-ordered blood sample.

Crowley said he was "shocked and saddened" by Barticheck's death (Bartichek had recently retired after working for him for 18 years). His official holiday party for tonight was canceled after the news. Bartichek's relatives were stunned; her son said, "She’s beaten five cancers. She’s a strong lady, so for this to happen, it’s a shock."

And Gillepsie was charged with DWI and vehicular manslaughter. She will be arraigned today, and the Daily News says that this is the city's 23rd DWI death this year.