Driver Jumps a Curb and Hits Five Children Near Queens School

Photo: Daily News

A motorist dropping his child off at school jumped a curb and injured several students in Queens this morning, according to officials and published reports.

The driver of a Honda SUV drove onto the sidewalk at Grand Avenue and 71st Street in Maspeth at around 7:49 a.m., striking five people. The victims were all age 12 or 13, reports say, and had just exited a deli across the street from I.S. 73, Frank Sansivieri Intermediate School. From DNAinfo:

In the wake of the horrific crash, a group of onlookers sprang into action, lifting the car in a desperate attempt to rescue two girls who were pinned underneath.

“We lifted the car just enough to get the girls out,” said David Foubister, 40, who was walking his dog, Gucci, when he heard cries for help.

“It was a whole community effort. The girls were in shock.”

Another witness, Lyns Garcia, saw the crash and rushed over to help.

One of the girls was still clutching an egg sandwich, as well as a phone that showed a text message from her mom.

“The mom had just texted a bunch of hearts and smileys,” said Garcia, 44. “The girl said, ‘Hold me.’

Moments later, the girl’s mom called and Garcia told her what happened to her daughter, whose leg appeared twisted, according to the witness.

The victims were taken to Elmhurst Hospital with “non life-threatening injuries,” according to NYPD. FDNY said the victims were “yellow tagged,” which according to an FDNY online forum means they sustained “injuries that will require further, but not necessarily immediate, attention.”

DNAinfo reports that according to police one girl suffered a broken leg another a broken hip. Both girls are 13. One boy, 12, has a leg injury and another, 14, was treated for a swollen arm.

A police spokesperson and witnesses said the driver was attempting to park. City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley was on the scene. “It was the driver’s mistake,” Crowley said. “He was parking the car to drop his child off at school and he pressed in the gas instead of the brake. He thought he was slowing down but he pushed the gas and jumped the curb.”

An investigation into the crash is ongoing, according to NYPD. The Post reported that the driver was administered a breath test at the scene.

Melanie Huerta, 12, was getting off the bus precariously close to the mayhem.

“If I took one step I could’ve gotten hit,” she told the Post. “The car just came out of nowhere and I saw the car crash into my friend  Ashley. She got stuck under the car. Then I saw other people just stop and try to pick up the car. I was shocked. I was shaking. The driver also got out to help lift the car.”

There is an elementary school two blocks from the crash site, and many children were in the area. Monday was the first day of class for public school kids.

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of  injury-related death for children in NYC. According to state DMV data, an average of five kids are hit by motorists in the city each day. At least six kids age 11 and under have been killed by city motorists in the past year. Injuries to children dropped 44 percent near 100 schools selected to receive federally-funded Safe Routes to School improvements. There are 1,200 school buildings in the city.

On Monday the city activated the 20 cameras permitted by Albany to fine motorists who exceed the speed limit by 11 mph or more in school zones. The 104th Precinct, where this crash occurred, issued 95 speeding tickets this year as of August.

At least three pedestrians, including a 7-year-old boy, have been killed by drivers in the 104th Precinct in the past year. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Captain Christopher M. Manson, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 104th Precinct council meetings happen at 7:30 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Call Detective Bell at 718-386-2431 for location information.

To encourage Council Member Crowley to take action to improve street safety in her district and citywide, contact her at 718-366-3900, ecrowley@council.nyc.gov or @ElizCrowleyNYC.

  • BornAgainBicyclist

    Sounds like at least a couple of the kids could have life-*changing* injuries, and the NYPD should start acknowledging that in these non-fatal (thus far) crashes. Using “non-life-threatening injuries” just serves to de-emphasize the severity of the crash and subtly relieve the driver of responsibility, as if to imply that because no one is going to die, it’s not that big a deal.

  • Ian Turner

    Car should be forfeited, driver should never be allowed behind the wheel again.

  • Joe R.

    Is there any good reason anyone should even be driving a vehicle like that in NYC? The height and heavy front bumper means it has a high likelihood of injuring or killing. It’s an off-road vehicle, designed for places where you’ll be driving in the bush. Driving on sidewalks doesn’t count as off-road use.

    The best part though was ““He was parking the car to drop his child off at school…”

    This is NYC, not some suburb. Most kids can and do walk to school, or take public transit if it’s too far to walk. Parents shouldn’t be dropping their kids off at school. It congests the area around the school, and makes it much more dangerous for the other children on foot. The parked cars also block lines of sight for children crossing. We need to have a strict policy of no private vehicles standing within a few blocks of schools during school hours. Have vigorous enforcement until parents get the message. Their child isn’t “special”. They can walk just like everyone else. And if they have some legitimate disability preventing that, NYC is great for arranging alternate transportation to school.

  • Anonymous

    My gripe is not so much with parents who drive their kids to school, but with those who double-park near the school (which is to say, nearly all of them). If you are not willing to spend the time/effort/money to find a proper parking spot (and yes, I know it’s really hard), then don’t drive to school.

  • carma

    grand ave is too dangerous. my mother lives there, and sometimes my youngest child is with grandma in a stroller on grand ave. in the last 3 years, ive seen 4 accidents involving cars hitting other cars and jumping the curb. while i dont think speeding was the issue in any of the cases, it is drivers carelessly U turning, not paying attention or just shouldnt be behind the wheel to begin with.

    some safety measures would be much appreciated on grand ave. i certainly dont want my own child to be hurt.

  • carma

    confusing brake and gas should not be an excuse to be behind the wheel ever again.

  • Daniel Winks

    Definitely love the ‘cattle’ guard on the front. I’m sure these poor children ‘loved’ it too. This idiot driver needs to rot in prison, but, as we know, there’ll probably be absolutely no charges, ever.

  • Ian Turner

    Also, bollards.

  • Daniel Winks

    There’s no such thing as an “accident”.

  • Max Power

    If only that block had been begrimed with a bike-share station…

  • Anonymous

    In a sane world, making an error as fundamental as that would be the *reason* your license gets taken from you. Here it will likely be used as the argument for why the driver should be absolved.

  • Anonymous

    Good point. The crash bars on the front almost certainly contributed to the two victims’ broken legs. If the bars were factory-standard, the manufacturer should be held responsible for marketing an item that is unreasonably dangerous for use in an urban setting. Why not mount iron spikes on the front?

  • r

    If community boards didn’t worship at the altar of free parking, schools might be able to create convenient drop-off/pick-up zones on neighboring blocks to keep the constant movement of dangerous cars away from the school entrance, a place where large groups of students on foot are likely to congregate.

    But that might involve sacrificing four or five parking spaces to make hundreds of kids safer, so it probably won’t happen.

  • Anonymous

    No doubt the motorist drove his child to school because he feared for their safety. Worried about being hit by a car, perhaps?

  • Brad Aaron

    Those have to be aftermarket.

  • Simon

    Well said, my thoughts exactly.

  • Mike

    As a driver, I always find it difficult to believe the mistaken pedal excuse. Granted, my car doesn’t have the acceleration properties of a Ferrari, but I could certainly switch to braking in the event I did make that mistake. It seems like you would have to really stomp the pedal and then panic in order to do something like this.

    It’s a shame about those kids, I hope the recover quickly and fully.

  • Ian Turner

    Most parents who drive their children do so out of (inflated) concern for stranger danger.

  • Daniel Winks

    Obviously installed to keep the bodies of pesky children from denting the bumper.

  • carma

    As a driver of a stick shift. This mistake would be impossible if you were parallel parking as you still need to use the clutch and gas pedal to move

  • Andrew

    For the record, the Q58 and Q59 buses stop around the corner from the school, and the Q18, Q47, and Q67 are within a half-mile walk. This is not a transit desert.

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