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Woman Dies After Driverless Van Reverses Into Astoria Food Cart, NYPD Says

By  Jeanmarie Evelly and Radhika Marya | August 31, 2016 4:16pm | Updated on September 1, 2016 7:56am

 An elderly woman died after van ran her over and hit a 70-year-old food cart vendor, police said.
An elderly woman died after van ran her over and hit a 70-year-old food cart vendor, police said.
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DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

ASTORIA — An elderly woman died and a man was injured when a driver accidentally left his van in reverse, sending it rolling across the intersection and hitting them Wednesday afternoon, police and witnesses said. 

The vehicle rolled backward across the intersection of Broadway and 32nd Street, where it ran over an 80-year-old woman and hit a 70-year-old food cart vendor about 2 p.m., witnesses and NYPD officials said.

The woman, whose name wasn't immediately released, was pronounced dead at Elmhurst Hospital, police said Thursday morning.

The man was listed in critical condition at the same hospital, police said.

The van's driver, 29, had just gotten out of the vehicle when it began reversing with its door still open, across Broadway, according to a witness who works in the area and declined to give his name.

"The driver thought he put it in park but he put it in reverse," the witness said. 

It ran over the female victim as she was standing on the corner with a bag of groceries, he said. Apples and a spilled package of blueberries could be seen strewn across the sidewalk following the crash.

The car then reversed into the souvlaki cart outside the Capital One bank, pushing the cart back several feet and hitting one of its workers, according to the witness. 

"He was talking but he had a big gash on the side of his head," the witness said, saying he ran out and held paper towels to the man's wound to help with the bleeding.

Astoria Van Crash

A driverless van reversed into a 70-year-old food cart vendor and ran over an 80-year-old woman, killing her, at 32nd Street and Broadway in Astoria on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. (DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly)

Gimmy Manolas, whose father has run the souvlaki cart at the corner for 30 years, confirmed the injured man was a worker there.

"The van came from across the street and it just hit us," he said, saying he tried to push his colleague out of the van's direct path. "It was like a movie."

The driver of the van remained on the scene, police said.

There were no arrests as of Thursday morning and the investigation was ongoing, police said.