Rock pranks damage cars in Astoria

Astoria resident Loretta Csikortos removes tape from the window of her son's Mustang, which was hit by rocks thrown last weekend from the elevated Amtrak trestle. Neighbors believe teenagers flung the stones. Photo by Christina Santucci
By Nathan Duke

Astoria residents who live near Amtrak's elevated trestle have complained for years about falling concrete, but last week neighbors said they were disturbed after youths flung stones off the structure and struck parked cars.

At least three cars and several roofs were damaged after a group of youths, who have not been apprehended by police, threw the rocks from the trestle at cars and homes on 23rd Street in Astoria Saturday and Sunday night, neighbors said.

Resident Loretta Csikortos said one rock broke the windshield of her son's 2008 Ford Mustang and left a dent on its hood. Rocks also pelted a BMW on the block, she said.

“Every summer this happens,” she said. “Every year cars get hit, but I thought we'd gotten away from it this year. Amtrak should secure the tracks with barb wire and not just wait for someone to get killed.”

Csikortos said she picked up eight to 10 rocks, several of which were four inches long and two inches wide, off the street after the attack. Neighbors said that it appeared to be teenagers hurling the rocks from the trestle.

Michael O'Sullivan, who has lived on the block for many years, said he recalls stones being thrown from the track for at least 20 years. He said windows on his car have been broken and the skylight on his home was smashed last year.

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) called on Amtrak earlier this week to take added measures to catch people who throw stones from the elevated tracks, add cameras on the trestle and tighten security on the structure.

“It is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured,” he said. “If young miscreants are able to bypass [Amtrak] security, it could be an easy potential target for people with much more sinister intentions.”

Amtrak police investigated the weekend incidents, a spokesman for Amtrak said.

Abigail Kendrick, who has lived on the block for seven years, said her car was struck with a jagged rock in April. She said she believed Amtrak should better protect residents living near the elevated trestle.

“If someone gets hit, they could be criminally and civilly responsible,” she said. “Amtrak has a duty to maintain their premises. They've breached their duty.”

Astoria residents had complained two years ago that large pieces of concrete had fallen from the trestle and nearly struck pedestrians and drivers below. Amtrak upgraded the train bridge by filling in cracks and securing loose concrete on its north and south sides.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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