By Tuan Nguyen, Julie Shapiro and Nicole Bode
DOWNTOWN — A truck driver lost control after suffering a seizure, hit two vehicles and narrowly missed hitting a street vendor before slamming into the side of the US Post Office building on West Broadway Friday morning, the Fire Department said.
The crash happened just after 9 a.m. at the intersection of West Broadway and Barclay Street, just north of the busy World Trade Center construction site, where workers have been preparing for ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
The Port Authority said the truck was not connected to the Trade Center construction.
The truck was heading south on West Broadway when it hit a boxtruck and a pickup truck before slamming into the back of 90 Church Street, a Port Authority Police Department spokesman said. The truck belonged to the Brooklyn-based construction company, Glenwood Mason Supply Company, Inc., which did not immediately return calls for comment.
The 45-year-old driver was delivering masonry blocks to Fiterman Hall construction site, a PAPD spokesman said. NYPD and PAPD workers extricated the driver, who was taken to Bellevue Hospital, PAPD said. There was no indication he was ticketed or charged, they said. Investigators are checking the truck for mechanical failure, officials said.
A street vendor selling t-shirts and other merchandise in front of the Federal building at 90 Church St., which houses the US Post office, said he saw the speeding vehicle coming at the last minute, and narrowly escaped with his life.
"I saw him coming so I jumped," said Lassane Niass, who keeps his merchandise at the southeast corner of Barclay Street and West Broadway.
Niass said the truck was moving fast, and slammed into two other trucks before careening toward him.
"It was very scary. People started running and saying, 'Get away!'" said Maggie Lava, a Financial District resident. Lava said she was walking her 7-year-old daughter to camp along Barclay Street when she saw the truck careening down Barclay Street and hitting another vehicle before jumping the sidewalk.
"All of a sudden you hear this loud scraping noise," Lava said.
"Things flash through your mind: Is this an act of terrorism? You think, 'Oh my god, it's a big truck, is it filled with explosives? I was a little shaken up. It's a beautiful day today, just like 9/11," she added.
"It looked like a Hollywood movie. It seemed surreal."
One witness said the Glenwood truck clipped a man before smashing into the vehicles and the Post Office, but that the person escaped unscathed.
"He flew backward. Luckily he landed on his feet and a cop grabbed him by the arm to get him out of the way," said Josh Wittman, who works at a nearby building. Wittman said the truck wasn't moving very fast at first, and "didn't hit him that hard."
"He was really lucky," Wittman said.
The Fire Department and police at the scene had no report of additional injuries beyond the truck driver.
A second vehicle, a van belonging to Atlantic Hoisting and Scaffolding, of Brooklyn, was also hit by the runaway truck and was pushed up onto the sidewalk in front of the Federal building Friday. It was empty at the time, a staffer at the company said.
Sources said the truck was working on CUNY's Borough of Manhattan Community College Fiterman building at the northwest corner of the intersection before he suffered the siezure. BMCC did not immediately return a call for comment.