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Senior rams Mercedes into Little Neck deli

Senior rams Mercedes into Little Neck deli
Police examine a car that an elderly woman drove through a Little Neck deli last week. Photo by Christina Santucci
By Anna Gustafson

An elderly woman drove her Mercedes-Benz through the front of Mazurs Kosher Market in Little Neck last week, sending herself and a customer who was trapped underneath the vehicle to the hospital, police and fire officials said.

The middle-aged victim was taken after the Oct. 27 accident to North Shore-LIJ Hospital, where she remained listed in critical but stable condition Monday, police said. The driver also went to North Shore but was not badly injured, according to police. Police did not release either of the women’s names.

Police said the driver, who was about 70 to 80 years old, pinned the woman under the rear tire on the white Mercedes’ passenger side after crashing through the front of the store that is in the Little Neck Plaza, a shopping center near the Queens-Nassau County border.

“I was waiting on a customer when I heard the crash,” said Barbara Vanagas, 53, who has worked for the deli for the past 11 years. “She drove right past my register. She could’ve killed me. I was a foot away from her. I’m still in shock. I’m very scared.”

Fire officials said the woman who was hit had been shopping in the store when she was struck around 3:30 p.m.

“I saw glass shattered all over the place, and I heard screams,” Vanagas said. “I heard the woman who was hit cry out, and I just said, ‘Oh, my God.”

Bruce Gardner, who works in the nearby Davis Vision, said the crash “sounded like an explosion.”

Melissa Barilli, of Bayside, said it was frightening watching the victim being removed from the store on a stretcher.

“She was under the car, and it was very scary,” Barilli said.

Mazurs Kosher Market is sandwiched between Denny’s Children’s Wear on the left and Five Guys Burgers and Fries to the right. It is in a shopping center with about 17 stores, about half of which have had cars drive through their storefronts, according to Irene Shamalova, who works at the Exit 32 hair salon.

“It has happened about eight times in the past 10 years,” Shamalova said. “A car jumped into my store on Sept. 11, 2002. They need to put up more barriers. They need to put up something like a column to protect us.”

Other stores in the center include a Panera Bread, All State, Jian Restaurant, a liquor store, a bagel shop, a Taco Bell and a dry cleaning business.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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