2010-06-04 / Top Stories

Rockaway Resident Dead After Manhattan ‘Pub Crawl’

Reports: Koppel Seen Often In Rockaway Bars
By Howard Schwach

Andrew Koppel in a photo from his Facebook page. Andrew Koppel in a photo from his Facebook page. It may be two weeks or more before investigators at the city’s Medical Examiner can say for sure why Rockaway resident Andrew Koppel, the son of famed television journalist Ted Koppel, died in a Manhattan apartment on June 1 after he reportedly went on a “pub crawl” with a man he had just met.

“Koppel’s death is pending further investigation,” said longtime city medical examiner spokesperson Ellen Borakove. “We have to do additional toxicology and tissue studies before we can issue a cause of death.”

Borakove told The Wave on Wednesday that the studies might take up to two weeks to complete.

Koppel, who lived with his pregnant girlfriend, noted photographer Ilona Lieberman and their young daughter, Alice, at her parent’s Beach 125 Street home, was an attorney for the New York City Housing Authority until 2008, when he left to work with the city’s homeless and to teach at John Jay College in Manhattan.

According to published reports in both the Daily News and the New York Post, Koppel was seen often drinking at Rockaway watering holes.

One Rockaway neighbor told New York Post reporters that he spotted him at Harbor Light on Beach 130 Street last year.

“He was out of his mind drunk,” the neighbor told the Post. “He was drunk to the point that the owner and the bartender had to tell him that he had enough and to leave his motorcycle at the bar and walk home.”

Koppel reportedly disregarded the advice and rode away.

The Daily News reported that Koppel drank at the Rockaway Park Hotel as well, calling the Beach 116 Street bar and hotel, “a seedy” hotel.

Koppel was found dead by paramedics in an apartment on Audubon Avenue and 180 Street in Manhattan. The apartment belongs to the man who spent the day with Koppel, moving from bar to bar.

Belinda Caban, who lives in the apartment with the man, identified as Russell Wimberly, a waiter, said that Koppel was very drunk when her partner brought him home to sober up.

“He was very messed up when he came in, very drunk,” she told Daily News reporters.

“We took him to the bedroom and laid him down to rest.”

She said that she checked on Koppel later in the evening and that he was breathing.

After a couple of hours, however, Caban found that he had thrown up and defecated in her bed and appeared not to be breathing.

She called 911.

“When the ambulance came, they said he was dead,” Caban said later.

Koppel was convicted in 1993 of punching a senatorial aide in a drunken dust-up while he was a student at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

He was ordered to take an alcohol treatment program.

Three years earlier, he was arrested for driving while intoxicated.

Ted Koppel and his wife issued a statement to the press.

“Our son, Andrew, was a brilliant, caring man whose loss we will mourn for the rest of our lives,” they said.

On Wednesday, Lieberman’s sister, Michelle, read a statement to reporters outside their Rockaway Park home.

“We will always remember Andrew as a generous, loving and compassionate father, partner and friend,” the pregnant Lieberman said. “This has been a devastating tragedy for the family and our family grieves enormously.”

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