Driver who plowed into crowd at NYC park, killing 3, is substance abuse counselor, sources say

NEW YORK — The 44-year-old drunk driver who barreled into a Lower East Side park on the Fourth of July, killing three people — including a mother and son — is a substance abuse counselor and lecturer who was arrested for assault last year when he punched someone who disagreed with his teaching methods, the New York Daily News has learned.

Cops charged Daniel Hyden of Monmouth Junction, New Jersey — about 50 miles from where the crash took place — with drunk driving and for not having a valid license. Other charges may be filed as the investigation continues, cops said.

Eight others were injured when a holiday celebration turned into a blood-soaked horror show inside Corlears Hook Park on the corner of Water St. and Jackson St. at 8:55 p.m., just minutes before Independence Day fireworks were set to explode over the skies of Manhattan, cops said.

Hyden is the author of “The Sober Addict: A Guide on How to Be Functional With the Dysfunctional Disease of Addiction” and is currently a program director for the Manhattan-based Services for the UnderServed, according to his LinkedIn page.

“My jobs are my passions and each allows me to advocate on the behalf of all those impacted by the disease of addiction,” Hyden, who also goes by DC Hyden, wrote on his LinkedIn page. “My mission is to use my lifelong experience with addiction to teach addicts how to save themselves and achieve long term recovery.”

A call and email to the Services for the UnderServed was not immediately returned Friday.

Hyden was speeding through the Lower East Side in his Ford F-150 pickup truck when he blew past a stop sign, jumped a curb, blasted through a fence, and rammed through a crowd of people, horrified witnesses said.

“He plowed into the fence,” witness Juan Roman told the Daily News following the crash. “You could hear the metal shear and the benches collapsing.”

About 30 people celebrating the holiday were in the truck’s path, according to Roman, who watched in horror as Hyden slammed directly into a family of four barbecuing.

When cops arrived, more than a dozen people lay in crumpled heaps on the ground like broken dolls. A handful of victims were still under the pickup truck.

“I saw at least three people under the truck,” said Roman, 62. “They didn’t have no time to react. They were just crushed.”

Among those killed were Lucille Pinkney, 59, and her 38-year-old son Hernan Pinkney, police sources said. Also among the dead was a woman who was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, but remained unidentified Friday.

Pinkney and her son died of their injuries within an hour of each other after being rushed to New York Presbyterian Hospital, cops said. A 30-year-old woman was also rushed to New York Presbyterian Hospital with severe injuries about her body and remained in critical condition Friday.

An 11-year-old boy and his 33-year-old mother were among the eight injured, cops said. The child suffered cuts to his eye from flying debris, a police source with knowledge of the case said.

As the victims lay pinned under Hyden’s pickup truck, a “mob” of people pulled the driver out of the car “and started beating him,” Roman said.

“I was in shock,” said Roman. “It’s an image that’s not going to leave me anytime soon.”

On Feb. 29, 2023, Hyden was arrested for punching a 41-year-old student who took issue with his “teaching methods” a police source with knowledge of the case said. At the time, he was an instructor for Recoveries R Us on E. 105th St. in East Harlem. The student was not seriously harmed.

His LinkedIn page notes that Hyden left Recoveries R Us around the time of his arrest.

Mayor Adams, who responded to the scene, called Thursday’s fatal crash “a tragic incident.”

“A driver drove into a crowd of people who were just celebrating like so many New Yorkers and Americans are doing right now,” he said as he stood beside NYPD and FDNY officials.

Hyden’s arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court was pending.