Sheer Luck Prevents Curb-Jumping Driver From Killing People on Court Street

A motorist drove onto the sidewalk and crashed into a movie theater in Cobble Hill. No one was injured, but fatal off-road crashes remain a regular occurrence in NYC.

Photos: Sarah Goodyear
Photos: Sarah Goodyear

No one was hurt when a driver crashed into a movie theater in Cobble Hill last night. If not for sheer luck the outcome could have been much worse.

Former Streetsblog contributor Sarah Goodyear tweeted photos of the scene outside Cobble Hill Cinemas at 265 Court Street, a spot Goodyear said she passes “literally 20 times a day.”

The motorist drove an SUV onto the sidewalk, knocked over a fire hydrant and “kept going into the building,” Goodyear wrote.

Responding to Goodyear’s tweets, the 76th Precinct said the crash happened at 9:30 p.m., when the movie theater would normally be open. The precinct said the driver was “unlawful and at fault,” but did “not appear” to be speeding. According to Goodyear, the 25 mph speed limit is “never enforced” on that part of Court — a neighborhood main street lined with businesses.


Fatal sidewalk crashes remain a regular occurrence in NYC, including the neighborhoods near last night’s crash.

In 2013 48-year-old Martha Atwater was struck by a driver just after stepping out of a cafe at the corner of Clinton Street and Atlantic Avenue. That crash also occurred in the 76th Precinct, where local officers ticket roughly three speeding drivers a day.

Monday’s incident happened within two miles of the locations where curb-jumping drivers killed Lucian Merryweather and Victoria Nicodemus, in the 88th Precinct. All four crashes occurred in residential areas where motorists should never drive fast enough to “lose control” of their vehicles.

Since the 2014 launch of the city’s Vision Zero initiative, NYC motorists have killed at least 36 people on sidewalks, greenways, and other places drivers aren’t supposed to be. That no one died Monday was due only to fortuitous timing.

  • reasonableexplanation

    A few thoughts:

    Monday’s incident happened within two miles of the locations …

    Uh, that’s not really helpful: within 2 miles of cobble hill cinemas is literally all of Gowanus, Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo, Clinton Hill, the Navy Yard, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook, and Park Slope. This isn’t the suburbs, ‘close’ here is a few blocks, max.

    I go to this theater all the time, and at least when I’m there I’ve never noticed speeding to be an issue. Cars seem to move the normal way you’d expect them to. Looking at the images of the damage in this post, it doesn’t look like the car was going particularly fast. “Did not appear to be speeding” may be correct. Which means it’s either pedal confusion or a medical episode.

  • muffinstumps

    or far more likely: distracted driving.

  • reasonableexplanation

    How? The movie theater is on the side of the street, not at the end of the intersection, and judging from the picture the driver crashed their car almost perpendicular to the gate/street. That doesn’t look like distracted driving to me, that looks either like a heart attack (unlikely), or mistaking gas for brake while parallel parking (more likely).

  • dave “paco” abraham

    The movie theater is indeed on the corner north west corner. I used to live right there. I suppose it is pretty easy for a car to hop the curb, especially if it is speeding. the scary thought is that at the south west corner is an elementary school and the car could have just as easily mounted a sidewalk full of students. Also worrisome… Court Street has been designated a Vision Zero Priority corridor for more than two years and this stretch has not seen a single improvement beyond some changes to Court-Atlantic intersection half a mile away. CB6 & Brad Lander must demand more of DOT. While the agency is incredibly talented it is maddeningly slow. Glacial pace of changes means more injuries and fatalities every day.

  • eastphilliamsburg

    What’s the reason for Court St having 2 car lanes anyway?

  • reasonableexplanation

    Look again at the photo in the article: the car hit the hydrant perpendicular to the street and then hit the middle of the theater, well away from the intersection.

    Doesn’t really seem consistent with someone looking at their phone and drifting into the next lane.

  • Reader

    “CSI: Comments Section” is really the worst. It’s either pedal confusion (otherwise known as negligence) or a medical episode You can tell that from the photos? Have you offered your services to the FBI?

    You have no idea what happened and it could have been any of a million things. Sadly, we know all too well that the NYPD will conduct a cursory investigation at best and we’ll learn nothing that could prevent the next and possibly more tragic incident.

  • reasonableexplanation

    You know what, fair point. It’s far too easy to speculate, and tempting when you know the location personally.

    You’re right, we don’t know. I can make an educated guess, but that’s all it’ll be.

  • Reggie

    Vision Zero Priority Corridor = line on a map, nothing more, but I know that Paco knows that

  • dave “paco” abraham

    middle of theater’s entrance is about two car lengths from the corner. Very easy to hop the curb there. Hoping the 76th precinct does a real investigation, but assuming they’ll dismiss it as routine ‘cars will be cars’ type of nonsense.

  • Curb Jumping NYC

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