Tag Archives: Astoria

Celebrated violinist rocks Astoria high schoolers with golden violin and his message


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Award-winning violinist Alexander Markov gave a free concert to students at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts Wednesday as a part of his effort to spread classical music to youngsters.

Ahead of his Carnegie Hall concert on June 5, Markov played pieces by Bach and Paganini for about 50 students of an orchestra class at the Astoria high school.

The free performance was the latest of his series of outreach trips to city performing art schools.

“Nowadays if you go to classical concerts there aren’t many young people coming,” Markov said. “What I’m hoping is with this school outreach I’m doing before big concerts kids realize good music is good music.”

Markov took questions from the students and lectured them on a variety of subjects, such as how long to practice each day and about finding their own style.


Students enjoyed the violinist’s visit not only because of his performance, but also because he made jokes and surprised them.

For example, when someone asked about his bow, he pulled out one that lit up bright red like a light saber wielded by a villain from the dark side of the Force in the Star Wars universe, to their amazement.

They had the same reaction when Markov took out his custom gold-plated electric violin, which he uses for his “Rock Concerto” shows. It makes a sound similar to a rock guitar and reflects how he blends the classical and modern eras, showing students how to be open to a wide variety of music.

“That’s his style. It’s very attractive,” said Logan Vrankovic, a senior, who wants to be a composer and conductor. “He carved his own path and it’s a really inspiring message for young musicians.”

Although Markov stopped by to teach the children, he ended up learning something himself.

“The main thing I’m learning is that music should be fun,” he said. “If you do it right, it’s fun, you enjoy it and it becomes one big party.”

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Participatory budgeting winners announced in western Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

The residents of western Queens have spoken and the results are in regarding where they would like to see $1 million spent in each community.

Councilmen Costa Constantinides and Jimmy Van Bramer announced the winning projects of this year’s participatory budgeting process, where residents in each individual district were able to cast their vote on where they want city funding to be spent.

In Constantinides’ District 22, which covers Astoria and parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, 2,204 residents came out to vote last month and three projects were chosen as the winners.

A total of 825 residents voted on the first project that will spend $245,000 in district-wide public school technology upgrades. Through this project, $35,000 will be spent each for P.S. 84, P.S. 122, P.S. 234, I.S. 235, P.S. 17, P.S. 2 and I.S. 141.

The second project, which brought in 773 votes, is $500,000 to go toward turning a lot under the RFK Bridge, located at Hoyt Avenue between 23rd and 24th streets, which is currently empty, into a dog run.

The final project, with 715 votes, will transform I.S. 126’s parking lot in Astoria into a recreational playground for the school and community.

With the third project the total comes out to $1,245,000, so Constantinides plans to allocate more funding from his discretionary budget to fully support the projects.

“The entire process has been community-driven, inclusive, and engaging. I am excited to see the strong voter response that gave everyone a voice in the city budgeting process,” Constantinides said. “The technology upgrades across the district, a new dog run in a neighborhood that currently lacks even one, and a playground [where] students have no official schoolyard will enrich the lives of families and children throughout Astoria.”

Photo via Twitter/@JimmyVanBramer

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer announced the results of this year’s participatory budgeting process for District 26 on Wednesday night at LIC Bar. (Photo via Twitter/@JimmyVanBramer)

In Van Bramer’s District 26, covering Woodside, Sunnyside, LIC and parts of Astoria, the winning projects include a Long Island City Bikeway, a 10-person van for the Jacob Riis Settlement House for seniors and a playground upgrade at Queensbridge.

A total of $500,000 would go toward the Long Island City Bikeway, which would be an improved, safe and reliable bikeway system in the neighborhood. The Jacob Riis Settlement House van is a $55,000 project that would help transport seniors to and from programs. The third project is a $500,000 upgrade at a playground in the Queensbridge housing development that would replace rubber matting in five jungle gym areas.

During the announcement of the winners Wednesday night, Van Bramer also announced that because of the large voter turnout his office would be funding five more projects. These include $50,000 in accessibility improvements each for the Sunnyside and Woodside libraries, $200,000 for the Woodside Reforestry project, $100,000 for district-wide real-time passenger bus countdown clocks and $75,000 in technology upgrades for P.S./I.S. 78 in LIC.

In total, Van Bremer will be dedicating over $1.5 million in funding for projects chosen by the community.

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Coyote spotted near LaGuardia Airport


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Brian Porter/Laura Süpper

The coyote sightings are continuing to grow in Queens as one of the wild creatures was spotted around LaGuardia Airport early Thursday morning.

According to a Port Authority Police Department spokesman, a USPS delivery person saw the animal in the vicinity of 82nd Street and Ditmars Boulevard, at the edge of the airport, at about 2 a.m.

Port Authority and NYPD units responded and reported that the coyote ran toward Elmjack Field, just west of airport grounds. The Port Authority and NYPD currently had no further information on any more sightings.

This is one of several coyote sightings in the borough in recent weeks.

On March 30, one was spotted on the rooftop of a Long Island City bar. Police and animal control tried to capture it, but it escaped.

And just last week, a coyote was caught in Middle Village. The 4-year-old female evaded capture the first day it was spotted, but was nabbed the following night in a local backyard.

Queens isn’t the only borough to experience a spike in coyote sightings.

Coyotes have also been seen in the last month running around Manhattan — including the Upper West Side, Chelsea and most recently Battery Park, where it was trapped after briefly running loose in the Lower Manhattan neighborhood.

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Astoria veteran featured in documentary honoring Army cameramen


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Don Fedynak/ Gallery by Jim Saller, 221st Signal Company

For one Astoria veteran, the time has finally arrived when he, along with hundreds of other soldiers, will be recognized for putting their lives on the line to capture the Vietnam War on camera.

Don Fedynak, an Astoria resident for over 40 years who served on the 221st Signal Company during the Vietnam War, is featured in the documentary “Unseen Warriors: Army Combat Cameramen in the Vietnam War.”

The four-hour-long film, created by Ellen Holzman and Meredith Vezina of Traditions Military Videos in California, focuses on the stories of combat cameramen who documented the Vietnam War and showcases their photos and films, many of which have never before been seen by the public.

The idea of the film surfaced after Holzman said they realized that for years they had been obtaining raw film footage from the National Archives, but they were never able to credit the cameramen themselves.

“We’re kind of getting to a point that we are looking ahead and we realized that all this time we had never really given credit to individual combat cameraman who took that footage and risked their lives to do that,” Holzman said. “We felt that it was time to give back.”

“Unseen Warriors” tells the stories of soldiers from different groups of Army combat cameramen such as the Department of the Army Special Photo Office, the 69th Signal Photo Platoon, and the 221st Signal Company. These soldiers took film footage on the field in Vietnam which would later be sent back to the United States for members of the chain of command to view.

Don Fedynak

Don Fedynak

Fedynak, who served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970 and received a Bronze Star for meritorious service, said his group was excited when they were contacted to be a part of the documentary because they had always felt they never got the recognition they deserved.

“Cameramen, in particular Army cameramen, never got credit for what they shot,” Fedynak said. “Cameramen are screen hogs. We like to see our names in lights, but in the military we never did.”

Before being drafted into the Army, Fedynak worked as an assistant film editor and volunteered to part of the 221st Signal Company because he knew they were responsible for capturing what was taking place overseas.

“People always see pictures of World War II and Korea and someone should be wondering, ‘Someone had to be there taking those shots,’” Fedynak said. “It was quite a unique experience. This was like another job, but I was wearing a green suit at the time and occasionally people shot at you.”

In one chapter of the documentary, which is made up of 12 chapters, Don was interviewed on the 1969 attack on the Vietnam headquarters of the 221st Signal Company.

“It’s kind of emotional. It’s not just the glory and recognition; it’s honoring those guys who some gave the ultimate sacrifice. In a sense we can honor them as well,” Fedynak said about the documentary.

This Saturday members of the 221st Signal Company will come together in Washington, D.C., for a reunion and ceremony honoring fallen soldiers.

For more information or to purchase the DVD set of “Unseen Warriors,” visit militaryvideo.com or call 800-277-1977.


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Local artist to donate ceramic tile installation to Astoria Heights Park


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Penelope Eleni

A mother of three is making her way back into the art world by creating an art installation that will bloom at a local Astoria community park.

Penelope Eleni, a sculptor and ceramist from Astoria, is coming together to with the city’s Parks Department and the Friends of Astoria Heights Park to present a temporary installation of ten ceramic tiles at the western Queens park.

The installation, which will be on view through November, will be located at Astoria Heights Park’s Butterfly Garden at 30th Road and 46th Street.

Last year, Eleni won a grant from the Queens Council on the Arts to create a public installation and she has decided to donate it to the group of neighbors that make up Friends of Astoria Heights Park.

She said she wanted to make artwork that was accessible to the community and aimed at children, who would be able to touch and explore the tiles.

“[Friends of Astoria Heights Park ] were so friendly and willing to work for me and they’ve done so many great things for the park and I couldn’t have done it without them,” Eleni said.

Along with helping beautify Astoria Heights Park, this art installation also serves as a way for Eleni to get back into creating art after having to put everything on hold while raising her son and twin daughters.

Eleni is a former professor of art and elementary school art teacher with a Master of Fine Arts in ceramics.

“They gave me a gift to get back into it,” Eleni said. “They gave me permission to become an artist again, it meant more to me at this point of my life than it would have coming out of graduate school.”

The tiles that make up the installation illustrate the story written by Eleni about her visit to Socrates Sculpture Park during the Halloween Harvest Festival. Each tile depicts encounters with men in funny hats, dogs in costume, dancing, and her children playing with other kids.

“The whole piece all around is all about the years I spent sitting on my living room floor changing diapers and taking long strolls through New York with my kids,” Eleni said.

A celebration of Eleni’s installation is expected to take place on May 30 from 11 a.m. to noon at the park’s playground at 30th Road and 46th Street.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/PenelopeEleni.

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Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios to pop up again this summer


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

Something is ready to pop up in Astoria this summer.

The organizers of the Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios, which launched last year as the city’s first-ever backlot market, have announced that the market is expected to make its grand return.

The Astoria Flea, a partnership between the LIC Flea & Food and Kaufman Astoria Studios, will operate from the studios’ outdoor lot, the first off its kind in the city.

This year, instead of running for a consecutive number of weeks, the Astoria Flea will be popping up at the studios’ lot on different dates.

Upon arrival at the Astoria Flea entrance at 36th Street and 35th Avenue, visitors will be welcomed by a 40-foot-high steel gate, designed by David Rockwell and the Rockwell Group.

Visitors of all ages and from all over the city will be able to enjoy the best in food vendors, antiques, collectibles, arts, crafts, fashion and much more.

Anyone looking to be a vendor at the Astoria Flea can apply at www.licflea.com.

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Man groped 12-year-old boy on N train: NYPD


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Sketch courtesy of NYPD

A man groped a 12-year-old boy aboard an N train last week before fleeing at an Astoria subway station, police said.

The suspect — described as a white male with a full beard, a spider tattoo on his left hand and a silver stud piercing by his right eye — approached the victim on a northbound N train just before 4 p.m. on April 23 and grabbed the boy’s genital area, authorities said. He then exited the train at the 36th Avenue stop.

Police have released a sketch of the suspect who was last seen wearing black sunglasses, a Mets baseball hat, red hooded sweatshirt, gray jeans and black boots.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Cops searching for bicycling groper in Astoria


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

A bicyclist is slapping and grabbing women’s buttocks as he’s riding around the streets of Astoria, according to police.

The suspect — described as a Hispanic male, 5 feet 4 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall and with a medium to stocky build — is wanted in three incidents starting earlier this month.

He is first suspected of grabbing a 33-year-old woman’s behind at about 11 a.m. on April 2, near 34th Avenue and 35th Street as he was bicycling.

On April 15, at about 8:45 p.m., the suspect approached a 29-year-old woman while riding a bicycle near 35th Avenue and 41st Street and struck her in the behind with his hand, cops said.

Police say the same bicyclist also slapped the buttocks of a 30-year-old woman the following day at about 11 a.m. around 36th Avenue and 34th Street.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Suspect wanted in gunpoint robbery at Astoria cellphone store


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo/video courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a man who robbed an Astoria cellphone store last week at gunpoint and then fled in a black Audi.

On April 17 at about 3:55 p.m., the unidentified suspect entered the T-Mobile store at 31-05 36th Ave. and displayed a firearm, according to authorities. He then demanded an employee fill a duffel bag with various boxed cellphones and he also took about $200 from the cash register.

The man then fled the store in a black Audi. No injuries were reported in the incident.


Police have released surveillance video and a photo of the suspect.

The suspect is described as a black man, about 35 years old, 6 feet tall, 275 pounds, and with black hair. He was last seen wearing a brown hooded sweatshirt, black sneakers and blue jeans.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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CB 1 chair, district manager to retire in the summer after almost four decades of service


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Map via CB1 Website

Astoria will soon say goodbye to two Community Board 1 leaders as they get ready to retire from their posts after nearly eight decades of combined service to the area.

Vinicio Donato, chair of CB 1, and Lucille Hartmann, district manager of the board, have announced they will both be retiring. Donato will stay on the board until August, while Hartmann will remain until July. 

Donato has been chair of the community board, which covers all of Astoria, and parts of Long Island City and Woodside, since 1979 and in January was re-elected to the position without any opposition. 

Hartmann has been on the board for about 38 years, during which she left for a brief period of time to work for the mayor’s office. 

However, the decision to announce their retirement at the same time was a coincidence and was made because it was just time for both of them to make the move, according to a community board representative. 

Lucille Hartmann (File Photo)

Lucille Hartmann (File photo)

Local elected officials thanked both Donato and Hartmann for their service and dedication to the community.

“Vinny and Lucille deserve our thanks for their long and dedicated service to our neighborhood,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said. “I have worked hand in hand with both of these community leaders throughout my career in public service and am proud to have stood side by side with them as we fought to make Astoria the wonderful place it is today. I wish both Vinny and Lucille the best in all that they do in the future.”

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer also thanked both of the community leaders for their commitment over the years.

“I thank Vinicio Donato for his four-plus decades of public service with Community Board 1 and acknowledge him for his commitment as an educator while at I.S. 10, where I attended as a kid,” Van Bramer said. “I commend Lucille Hartmann for her dedication to the communities of Community Board 1. Together, Vinny and Lucille cared deeply about the communities they served and worked hard every day to make western Queens a better place.”

Community Board 1 is expected to elect a new chairman at its September meeting after returning from the summer break.

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Identify this place in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

DSC_0299

Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken? Guess by commenting below! The answer will be revealed next week.

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: Newtown Road near 47th Street in Astoria
IMG_0715-624x503

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Queens Beer Week to kick off second year with over 70 venues


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Image via Instagram/@queensbeerweek

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO

Something is brewing in Queens, and in just two weeks you’ll be able to get a cold glass of what the borough has to offer.

The second annual Queens Beer Week will kick off its nine-day celebration of local breweries on May 8, with the final event on May 17.

According to organizer Daniel Bronson, a beer enthusiast and manager of Crescent and Vine in Astoria, this year’s event is expected to be bigger and better than the previous year, celebrating nine local breweries at over 70 borough-wide participating bars and restaurants.

The celebration will include brewery tours, home brewing demos, tap takeovers, food and beer pairings, pub crawls, and more.

“Queens has such a rich and diverse beer scene,” Bronson said. “We’re a borough home to some of the best neighborhood bars in the country. And although we have more breweries than any other borough, it was hard getting New Yorkers, even us here in Queens, to appreciate that.”

This year’s Queens Beer Week kicks off on May 8, with the official launch of Queens’ newest brewery, LIC Beer Project, at Crescent and Vine, located at 25-03 Ditmars Blvd. in Astoria.

On May 9, Rich Castagna of Bridge and Tunnel Brewery will host the Ridgewood Beer Bar Scavenger Hunt at various bars throughout Ridgewood. Players will search for clues and hidden items at local hot spots such as Julia’s Beer and Wine Bar, The Monk Ale House, Onderdonk & Sons, Bleachers Sports Bar and Queens Tavern.

The official Queens Beer Week Kick-Off Party, which is already sold out, will be held on May 10 at 4 p.m. at LIC Landing, located at 52-10 Vernon Blvd. in Long Island City. The event will feature samples and tastings from all of the Queens breweries, including Queens Beer Week IPA, a special collaboration beer made specifically for Queens Beer Week by SingleCut Beersmiths and Barrier Brewing Company.

On May 14, the film “Blood, Sweat and Beer,” a documentary by filmmaker Chip Hiden chronicling the evolution of two start-up breweries, will premiere at SingleCut Beersmiths, located at 19-33 37th St. in Astoria. In addition to pours of SingleCut beer, viewers will also be treated to beer-inspired popcorn from Ma and Pa Kettle Corn Co.

Long Island City-based breweries such as LIC Beer Project, Big Alice Brewing, Rockaway Brew Co. and Transmitter Brewing will offer tours and beer samples throughout the day on May 16.

Queens Beer Week 2015 wraps up on May 17, with the celebration of Finback Brewery’s one-year anniversary. Their new Barrel-Aged Plum and Proper, described as “a smoky sour dark ale brewed with fresh plums,” will be available in Finback’s taproom, located at 78-01 77th Ave. in Glendale.

For the latest information and Queens Beer Week schedule, visit www.queensbeerweek.com.

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Phony Sprint worker swipes copper wire from Astoria cellphone tower: NYPD


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a copper wire thief who they say impersonated a Sprint employee to steal the valuable metal from an Astoria rooftop.

The theft happened on top of a residential building on 42nd Street near 31st Avenue about 10:30 a.m. on March 13.

After gaining access to the building’s roof by saying he was a Sprint employee, authorities said, the suspect took cooper grounding wires from one of the company’s cellphone towers. He then fled southbound on 42nd Street while carrying a bundle of the wire.


Police have released video footage of the perpetrator and described him as Hispanic, 40 years old, about 5 feet 9 inches tall, and 200 pounds. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, black boots, a gray sweatshirt and black vest.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Bandits wanted for towing away air pumps from Queens gas stations


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Police are searching for the airheads who stole self-serve air pump machines from 17 gas stations in Queens and Brooklyn since December.

In each caper the suspects used a hook and chain attached to a vehicle to yank the coin-operated devices from their pedestals, authorities said. Each of the air pumps contained hundreds of dollars in quarters and police believe the crooks got away with more than $40,000 in change combined.

A dozen of the thefts occurred in Queens, and security cameras captured one of the incidents which occurred at 6:35 p.m. on March 21 at the Sunoco gas station located at 128-24 Rockaway Blvd. in South Ozone Park.


Two men, described as white or Hispanic, were spotted in the video. Police said one of them, who was wearing a white shirt and blue jeans, was observed operating a blue Honda Accord.

The other Queens air pump thefts are as follows:

  • At 4 p.m. on Dec. 29, the crooks removed an air pump containing $800 in change from the Citgo gas station located at 91-02 South Conduit Ave. in Ozone Park. They returned to the location on March 1 at 3 p.m. and stole the replacement air pump, valued at $1,000.
  • On Dec. 30, at about 10 p.m., the bandits stole an air pump containing $200 from the Getty gas station at 70-21 73rd Pl. in Glendale.
  • At 8 p.m. on Jan. 12, the suspects removed an air compressor valued at $2,500 from the BP gas station at 130-11 North Conduit Ave. in South Ozone Park. They returned twice more to this location — at 9 p.m. on Jan. 28 and again at 10 p.m. on April 1 — and removed the replacement air compressors.
  • On Jan. 13, at about 6:59 p.m., the crooks removed an air pump valued at $2,000 from the Sunoco gas station at 162-35 North Conduit Ave. in Springfield Gardens.
  • At 12:20 a.m. on March 8, the bandits removed the air pump from the Global gas station at 49-25 Van Dam St. in Long Island City.
  • That same morning, at 2 a.m., the crooks yanked away the air pump machine from the Exxon gas station at 59-51 Long Island Expwy. in Long Island City.
  • At 8:26 p.m. on March 16, the suspects removed the air pump machine from the BP gas station located at 100-07 Rockaway Blvd. in Ozone Park.
  • At 9:26 p.m. on March 20, the perpetrators removed an unknown amount of change from the vacuum air machine at the Eagle service center located at 49-05 Astoria Blvd. in Astoria.

Among the five Brooklyn locations in the pattern was the Exxon GPN Boulevard gas station at 1193 Myrtle Ave. in Bushwick. The crooks removed the station’s air pump machine, valued at $700, at 9:08 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 2.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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East Elmhurst woman charged with vehicular assault, DWI in Astoria hit-and-run


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

HANDCUFFS 1

A 21-year-old East Elmhurst driver who “didn’t even know” she struck someone has been charged with vehicular assault, DWI and other crimes for an Astoria hit-and-run that sent a pedestrian to the hospital earlier this week, according to the district attorney’s office.

Gisel M. Carchi is currently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges of first- and second-degree vehicular assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, leaving the scene of an incident without reporting/serious physical injury, fourth-degree criminal mischief and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, prosecutors said.

According to District Attorney Richard Brown, just before 4 p.m. on April 14 a 32-year-old woman saw a Nissan, which was being driven by Carchi, strike her parked Ford near Vernon Boulevard and 31st Drive. The witness then said she saw the Nissan hit a 37-year-old man before driving off without stopping.

A review of video surveillance showed the Nissan hitting the pedestrian, who was on the sidewalk, before swerving back onto the street and nearly striking another pedestrian, according to the district attorney. Carchi was finally stopped after hitting two more parked cars and taken to the 112th Precinct in Forest Hills. A test administered at the precinct allegedly indicated that she had a blood alcohol level of .201 percent, well above the .08 legal limit.

When speaking with authorities, Carchi allegedly admitted that she had been drinking and driving after she and a male friend had gone to a restaurant where they shared a bowl of an alcoholic drink.

“I guess I hit a car,” she reportedly said. “I didn’t even know I hit somebody.”

The 37-year-old pedestrian had to be taken to an area hospital where he was diagnosed with paralysis of the left leg, a shattered right knee, broken right ankle and significant pain to his back and pelvis, which will require more testing.

If convicted, Carchi faces up to seven years in prison.

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