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Tourists get a wild welcome to NYC

'I was scared,' said Paris resident Esther-Ethy Mamane, shown with her mother yesterday in New York. "I was scared," said Paris resident Esther-Ethy Mamane, shown with her mother yesterday in New York. (Mary Altaffer/ Associated Press)
Associated Press / June 25, 2009
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NEW YORK - Five French tourists got a harrowing start to their New York visit: a wild police chase.

As they looked for a ride at the Air France terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Tuesday morning, the visitors were lured to a van that was not licensed to provide taxi service, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spokesman John Kelly said.

Plainclothes police recognized the man who enticed the tourists, Ian McFarland, as a repeat offender. A Port Authority officer reached inside the van to try to grab the keys, but the driver, Khaalif Preacher, sped off with the tourists inside, knocking the officer to the ground, Kelly said.

The tourists said they screamed and prayed during the chase. The two suspects later fled the vehicle and were arrested after a foot chase.

“I was scared,’’ Esther-Ethy Mamane, 26, of Paris said yesterday at a news conference.

Mamane and her mother, Claudine, were given a bag full of New York City goodies, including tickets to the Broadway show “Chicago’’ and passes to the Museum of Modern Art.