By Bryan Schwartzman
Two children were in critical but stable condition and at least eight other victims were still in area hospitals Tuesday, but police said none of the injuries were life-threatening. The victims ranged in age from 5 and 78.
Wilfred Moore of St. Albans was driving on Hillside Avenue at about 3 p.m. when he lost control of his tan 1988 Mercury and sped onto the sidewalk, said John Buthorn, a police spokesman. The car missed a Q36 bus, which was stopped at the curb, but hit 27 people before crashing into a pole, witnesses and police said.
Moore was in stable condition at Long Island Jewish Hospital, said a hospital spokeswoman. No charges were expected to be filed against him, Buthorn said.
The sidewalk was packed with students from nearby Incarnation Elementary School, St. Francis Predatory High School, Van Buren High School, Bayside High School, and PS 135 who were waiting for city buses. Minutes after the accident, onlookers crowded around as victims were given medical assistance and the sounds of rescue vehicles and television news helicopters filled the air.
“I just got off the bus, I heard a compact noise, and then people were screaming, yelling,” said Alan Green, a Jamaica resident. “I saw people hit and lifted up into the air.”
“I thought the car was going to the gas station,” said Kimberly Macintosh, a Van Buren student who was standing on the sidewalk when the accident occurred but was not hit. “I looked up and saw people bleeding. I saw a girl with a bone sticking out of her pants.”
Witnesses said if the car had not smashed into the pole, it probably would have continued down the sidewalk, mowing down people or it would have crashed into one of the storefronts.
“If it wasn't for the pole, a lot of those people would have been dead,” said Green.
Sam Agbai, 22, had just gotten off the Q36 bus with his younger sister.
“First thing I did, I was making sure my little sister wasn't hit,” said Agbai. “It looked like hell on Earth.” His sister was not among the victims.
Agbai said seriously injured people were lying on the pavement and no one was quite sure what had happened.
As of Tuesday afternoon, two children were in critical but stable condition at Snyder Children's Hospital, an affiliate of Long Island Jewish Hospital, said Michelle Pinto, a hospital spokeswoman.
Two patients were being treated for leg injuries at North Shore University Hospital at Manhasset, she said.
Four other children were in stable condition at the hospital, she said. Four others were treated in the emergency room and released. One other child was scheduled to be operated on Tuesday to mend a broken leg, the spokeswoman said.
Four patients were taken to New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens, said spokeswoman Cynthia Miska. Two were treated and released and one child was being treated for a broken ankle and another for a fractured leg.
Two patients were brought to Mary Immaculate Hospital, said Juliet Lewis, a hospital spokeswoman. Lewis said a 14-year-old girl was being treated for a leg injury.
Phone calls to Queens Hospital Center were not returned.
“I was coming out of the store and I saw the car out of control,” said Eric Donig, a Van Buren student. “I ran down the block. I was scared.”