By Mark Hallum
NYPD responders did a little fishing of their own at the Bayside Marina Tuesday when they spent the afternoon recovering a Jeep Cherokee that had rolled into the bay. The car had gone in when the driver, who was mourning the death of a friend, put the car in park on the boat launch ramp.
Edgar Quinones from Woodside had borrowed a friend’s SUV to pay tribute to another friend, Anthony Abud, who had died two days prior to the incident.
One of Abud’s favorite spots, said Quinones, was the Bayside Marina where he and a fellow mourner went to leave flowers by the water.
According to Quinones, he placed the car on the boat ramp with the gear in park, and suddenly the vehicle started rolling. The Jeep slid into the water, and Quinones called for help, which came in the form of boats, scuba divers and helicopters to drag the SUV from the bottom of the bay.
“I’m not even sad about the car. I’m mostly just sad about my friend,” Edgar said without embarrassment.
Neither the driver nor the passenger, who declined to comment on the incident, was in the vehicle when it took the dive and both were uninjured.
Marya Hanon, 25, was out on an afternoon jog through Fort Totten Park when she came across the effort to recover the vehicle.
“I was jogging from Fort Totten and I saw all this traffic. And then, very rare to see on the jogging and biking path, there was an emergency vehicle, so I moved out of the way. Then all of a sudden as I got closer to this destination I saw a slew of police, FDNY, and ambulances,” Hanon said, while standing on the pier and watching as the scuba divers were busy making the Jeep buoyant enough for the tow trucks to drag.
The recovery effort had drawn a large crowd of bicyclists, pedestrians and fishermen who gathered on the dock as police directed. Meanwhile, traffic on Cross Island Parkway was slowing down so drivers could get a look.
Scuba divers from NYPD were able to get an inflatable bag inside the vehicle and fill it with air, making the white roof of the car more and more visible as it rose and the tide went out. The vehicle slid some 50 to 75 yards from shore before it came to a rest with the back hatch open.
Eventually, the car was pulled out on its side by a tow truck and flipped back upright with a loud crunch that shattered the remaining windows. The Cherokee may be back on dry land but is likely not going anywhere except the junk yard.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall