One Killed, Four Hurt in Wild Harlem Crash

By Ben Fractenberg and Julie Shapiro  on February 6, 2013 3:11pm  | Updated on February 6, 2013 10:03pm

HARLEM — A crash between a van and a car sent both vehicles careening onto the sidewalk in Harlem Wednesday afternoon, killing a woman in the car and injuring four other people, officials and witnesses said.

The van was heading north on Broadway when it slammed into a Ford Focus that was trying to turn left from Broadway onto 135th Street about 2:15 p.m., police said. The vehicles skidded into the northeast corner of the intersection, hitting a 44-year-old pedestrian and pinning the driver and three passengers inside the Focus.

The front-seat passenger in the Focus, Litseth Ventura, 46, a Washington Heights resident, was rushed to St. Luke's Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The driver of the Focus and two children in the backseat were taken to Harlem Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, as was the pedestrian who was struck, police said.

"I saw two ladies on the floor," said a crossing guard who was a block away when the crash occurred and raced over afterward to see what had happened. "The one was bleeding from her head."

Clairmonte Coptin, 41, a mail carrier, said he heard the boom of the crash and then saw that the van had pinned the Ford against the facade of Broadway Pharmacy at the corner of 135th and Broadway.

The FDNY had to use the "Jaws of Life" to rescue people from the Ford, Coptin said.

He added that Ventura appeared severely injured.

"She was bleeding from the mouth," Coptin said.

A young girl in the backseat suffered a cut to her forehead, and the woman who was driving the Ford appeared shaken up, Coptin said.

After the crash, northbound Broadway was shut down around 135th Street.

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