EAST VILLAGE — East Villagers are raising money for a longtime bodega worker who was critically hurt when an allegedly drunk driver jumped the curb on Second Avenue and mowed him down in front of the store last week.
Akkas Ali, 62, remained in Bellevue Hospital in a coma Tuesday, with severe brain injuries that his family said would lead to memory loss, as well as a broken left leg and ankle, following Thursday's high-speed crash by allegedly alcohol- and drug-fueled driver Shaun Martin, police said.
"We are all worried and praying," said Rukanul Islam, Ali's 24-year-old son, who has been keeping vigil at his father's bedside along with Ali's wife and three other children.
Ali, who spent more than 20 years selling flowers from the East Village Farm & Grocery's curbside stand at Second Avenue and East Fourth Street, has no medical insurance and his son said the family welcomed the news that local resident Chad Marlow had started a fund to help. The fund had raised more than $9,000 as of Tuesday, and Islam said the messages of support people are leaving online have comforted the family.
“Those kind messages make me feel good," Islam said. "I never thought people would show him love like that.”
Islam said Ali never opened his eyes after Martin plowed his 2013 white Nissan Altima onto the curb before 8 a.m. Thursday, hitting Ali and two other workers before clipping a Citi Bike rider and crashing to a halt.
Martin, who had prior arrests for cocaine possession, had marijuana in his sock when he was arrested at the hospital, police said. He has been charged with driving while intoxicated and under the influence of drugs, as well as vehicular assault, and drug possession, authorities said. He is in jail on Rikers Island in lieu of $100,000 bail.
Marlow, 41, an East Village resident, began raising money for Ali's family just hours after the crash.
Marlow didn't know Ali, but the accident brought back memories of Marlow's own father's severe injuries in a drunk-driving crash nearly 20 years ago that left Marlow's father a quadriplegic. He said the horror of that memory immediately made him want to help.
“I know that at a time like that, concerns about bills and lost income are very much on your mind, but they’re the last things you have time to think about,” said Marlow, who works as a senior policy adviser for the city's Health Department.
“Despite the fact that New York City is a city of 8 million people, the East Village is a community and one of the members of our community got grievously injured and we’re rallying around him.”
Islam said the crash came as a shock, because it didn't happen when his father was driving or crossing a road, but when he was doing his job.
Islam saw video footage of the accident on Monday night.
“The car came towards him so fast, it felt like a hurricane,” he said.
Marlow hopes to raise $100,000 for Ali and his family by July 30. The fund is accepting donations online.