Five Students Hurt When SUV Hops Curb Near Queens School
QUEENS — Five students were seriously hurt when a driver trying to park hopped the curb and smashed into them near their Maspeth middle school Thursday morning, cops and education officials said.
The children, all of whom attend nearby I.S. 73, were struck by a silver Honda Pilot near Grand Avenue and 71st Street at 7:49 a.m. outside a deli where some had just bought their breakfast, fire and education officials said.
In the wake of the horrific crash — which was caught on surveillance tape from a nearby store — a group of onlookers and the driver sprang into action, lifting the car in a desperate attempt to rescue two girls who were pinned underneath, witnesses said.
"We lifted the car just enough to get the girls out," said David Foubister, 40, at truck driver with the Teamsters who was walking his dog, Gucci, when he heard cries for help.
"It was a whole community effort. The girls were in shock."
Two teenage girls were the most seriously injured, with one breaking her leg and pelvis and the other suffering a broken back.
Ashley Khan, 13, suffered a compound fracture to her left leg and a broken pelvis when she was pinned under the car, said her father Ahmed Khan, a police officer for the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. He said she would have to undergo an 8-hour surgery.
"She didn't know what happened," he said. "She's in a lot of pain. She's scared."
Marina Abadir, 14, suffered multiple fractures to her vertabrae, said her uncle Sherif Elgawly, 37, an assistant teacher. She's currently recovering in the Intensive Care Unit at Elmhurst Hospital, he said.
"She's in severe pain," said Elgawly. "She has burn marks all over her."
A 12-year-old boy injured his leg and a 13-year-old boy was treated for a swollen arm, according to cops.
The injuries that the fifth student suffered were not clear but all had lacerations. They were rushed to Elmhurst Hospital.
One of the boys who was hit, Bajram Krcic, 11, left the hospital with his mother around 1 p.m. and said he was eager to return to school Friday.
"It was really scary," Bajram said, still reeling from the accident. "It was weird."
"My whole life flashed before my eyes. I was like, 'Is this real?'" he added.
"Thank God, he's ok," said his mother, Hajrija Gutic, before walking away with her son, who was limping.
Sources said that the 40-year-old driver, Francis Lu, was going shopping and was trying to pull into a space when he accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake.
He remained on the scene and was not expected to be charged, sources said.
"It was an accident," Ahmed Khan said. He thanked the Samaritans for saving his daughter.
"I'm extremely grateful to them helping my daughter," he said. "It's rare to have individuals like that stop and get involved."
One of the boys who was injured had stepped off the Q59 and was making his way to school when the car careened into them, according to Melanie Huerta, 12.
"If I took one more step, I would have been crushed," Huerta told reporters while standing beside her father. "I was shocked. I was shaking."
Another witness, Lynx Garcia, saw the crash and rushed over to help.
One of the girls was still holding 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.
Some of the kids' personal items were still lying in blood when police moved the SUV including, a pair of black sandals, a tube of lipgloss, and a lime green binder.
Neighbors said the area where the crash occurred is normally clogged in the morning with parents and students heading to the several nearby schools.
Carl Pangandian, 15, was waiting for a bus to go to his high school when he saw the crash. He eventually went to class, but left early.
"We had to leave. We all felt sick. I was throwing up. I can't sleep tonight with what I saw," said Pangandian.
Schools chancellor Dennis Walcott visited the students at the hospital.
"The kids are kids," he said. "They're resilient,"
With reporting by Trevor Bach and Ben Fractenberg.