Police say the driver behind Tuesday morning's deadly crash in Chinatown — which left a teenager dead after the car they were in drove off the Manhattan Bridge — was driving while drunk.
"I really can't believe that my son is gone," said Cindy Fabien, the victim's mother. "I wasn't prepared for this. I never thought that this day would come."
Shortly after 1 a.m., according to police, Gerald Joseph, 22, lost control of his Mazda sedan and drove off the bridge and onto Canal St. at a high rate of speed, striking a curb.
The car then then rammed into a light pole and smashed into a fire hydrant at Bowery and Canal. The car flipped over, trapping the driver and the victim inside for 20 minutes.
The top of the car was completely ripped off, and first responders had to rip off side doors to get Joseph and the victim out.
Police sources say the driver had a blood alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit.
He has been arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Sources said he has many priors, including robbery.
The 17-year-old passenger, Shareef Bellerand of Flatbush, was rushed to a local hospital, where he died.
Family members NY1 spoke with said they are devastated.
"Yesterday we had fun conversations, I was telling him about when he was born, I told him everything. And he was a good kid, everybody can tell you around here he was a really good kid. Lazy, but he was a very good kid," said one relative.
Bellerand was a senior at Transit Tech High School in Brooklyn. His mother said that he went door-to-door inside their building Christmas morning, delivering presents to children.
"When he came to the door, she was telling her son, 'Santa Claus is here,'" Fabien recalled. "He had a big smile on his face, was giving the gifts. 'Santa Claus is here!' and the little boy went to him and got his gift. That was it; he was just loving."
"Everybody knows Shareef. He was helpful to everybody," Fabien added. "'Shareef can you do this?' He would go."
The driver of the car is in stable condition.