By Karen Frantz
A 76-year-old man was hit by a car and killed in Woodhaven as he was crossing the street near his favorite coffee shop last week, and police arrested the driver on charges of drunk driving, authorities said.
Police said John Eberling was struck by a Nissan Pathfinder at about 4:30 p.m. Feb. 27 as he was crossing Jamaica Avenue near the corner of 80th Street — just blocks from his home on 77th Street.
Sayful Alam, a bodega clerk at Heaven Food Mart, which is on the corner of Jamaica Avenue and 80th Street, said he saw customers rush from his store to the street after the car hit. He followed to see what had happened.
“It was really bad,” he said.
He said he saw a man lying on the ground in a pool of blood, bleeding from his ankle.
“His leg is broke,” he said. “No movement of the body.”
He said he believed the man was killed instantly, which he said was probably a blessing.
“Thank God, you know,” he said.
Cops said Eberling was rushed to Jamaica Hospital, but was pronounced dead.
Police arrested the driver, Viveshdyal Thakoordyal, 47, of Richmond Hill, at the scene of the accident and charged him with vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated, the Police Department said.
Eberling’s longtime neighbors said they were stunned to hear the news when officers knocked on their door that evening trying to find contact information for his relatives.
“My husband said, ‘Are you sure he’s gone?’” said Karen Guo.
She and her husband, Kevin Wang, described Eberling as a kind man who loved to garden. They said he would give roses to their 8-year-old daughter, whom he was fond of.
“He was very nice to my daughter,” Wang said.
Wang said Eberling did not often volunteer information about his own life but that he was retired and he believed he used to be in the U.S. Army. He said he was not sure if he was ever married, but his niece, Diana, sometimes lived at the house with him.
Guo said every day, no matter what the weather was like, Eberling would walk to a shop on the corner of Jamaica Avenue and 80th Street to get coffee, right near where he was fatally struck.
“It’s tragic,” Guo said. “I can’t believe he’s gone.”
Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.