By Jeff Mays
HARLEM — An out-of-control car crashed through boxes of meat being loaded into a supermarket and slammed into a dry cleaners Monday morning, cutting a gash in the building's foundation and leaving bystanders rattled.
The driver avoided hitting anyone on the sidewalk at the busy intersection of West 148th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue. Police said the driver told them that his brakes failed, and that the incident is being treated as an accident.
"I was so scared. I heard the screeching and then the crash," said Young Yang, who owns Supreme Cleaners. "There was a lot of people on the sidewalk."
Yang said he saw the car driving east bound on 148th Street toward St. Nicholas Avenue. The car came through the intersection, slammed on the breaks, but did not stop, striking the building at about 5 to 10 miles per hour. The driver of the vehicle was uninjured and got out of the car to speak with police before eventually driving away.
The supermarket next door was getting a delivery and had boxes of meat on the sidewalk.
"He hit the boxes with a lot of meat in them and I think that slowed him down," said Yang. "Without the boxes he may have come through the window."
An inspector from the Department of Buildings was on the scene and told Yang, who rents the space, that the building likely would not have to be evacuated.
The inspector said the glass had moved about 5 1/2 inches after the impact. There was also a crack on the inside wall. A contractor was being called out to examine the building.
Erie Forbes, 46, a cashier at the supermarket next door said she's never seen anything like the crash.
"I heard a loud bang and a loud noise," Forbes said as she described the smashed boxes of meat. "This is a busy street. It could have been a lot worse."
"No one needs to tenderize the pork shoulder this week," Forbes joked. "The only reason we can laugh about this is that no one got hurt."