Tag Archives: Woodside

New 108th Precinct commanding officer wants to ‘harden’ community against crimes


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The new top cop at the 108th Precinct wants to enlist the public in the battle against crime as he steps into a new job he said he feels lucky to have landed.

Captain John Travaglia was named commanding officer of the precinct, covering Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Maspeth, on Nov. 17, replacing Captain Brian Hennessy, who was assigned commanding officer of the 115th Precinct.

“We don’t choose where we work in the NYPD, they tell us where we work and my lottery numbers came out. I hit the lottery to be in Long Island City,” Travaglia said. “[Hennessy] left me running with a well-oiled machine.”

Just a few weeks into his new assignment, Travaglia was able to present good news during the Dec. 4 Community Board 2 monthly meeting, when he reported that crime in the precinct had dropped significantly over the previous 28 days.

Robberies were down 8 percent, felony assaults down 9 percent, burglaries down 6 percent, grand larceny down 15 percent, and reports of stolen cars were down 50 percent, according to Travaglia.

In his new position, the 22-year NYPD veteran plans to continue what Hennessy accomplished at the precinct, such as Community Friday, which involves taking time to focus especially hard on quality-of-life issues in the precinct.

Using his experience from a previous assignment at NYPD Highway Patrol, Travaglia also said he wants to do more traffic enforcement, since an important issue in the precinct includes high-volume thoroughfares that carry thousands of commuters to and from work. He plans to emphasize enforcement of Vison Zero — a program championed by Mayor de Blasio to reduce traffic deaths — and also create a enhanced effort to crack down on drunken driving.

“There is nothing more important than getting a drunk driver off the road. I can equate it to taking a loaded illegal firearm off the street,” Travaglia said. “If we can somehow prevent a person from being injured, if not killed, that’s just as good as saving someone from a violent demise due to a crime.”

In regards to crime in the neighborhoods, Travaglia said he sees the same types of crimes that he did in his previous posts at the 114th and 104th precincts, such as property-based burglaries, car theft, and grand larceny.

In order to keep the number of such crimes down, Travaglia said he would like to educate residents on how they can help “harden the target” and lessen their chances of becoming crime victims. For example, residents making sure their windows and doors are tightly locked, making sure valuables aren’t left in cars and being more vigilant of their personal property and information.

“It’s not at all to make people feel like the police aren’t here to prevent this. We are here, [but] we cannot be everywhere. I wish we could stop all the bad people from doing this, but we cannot be everywhere,” Travaglia said. “It really is the community being the eyes and ears for the police department. We need people to call. If something looks out of place, we need to know about it.”

Travaglia said he wants to hear from the community, and that includes concerns about problems.

“I welcome complaints, I welcome compliments. I want people to attend community meetings,” he said. “We need to know what the problems are. If someone sees a problem, we need it to be reported. We cannot work a solution if we don’t know what the problem is.”

The next 108th Community Council Meeting is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2015, at Sunnyside Community Services.

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Crime down in the 108th Precinct


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

With just three weeks under his belt as the new commanding officer of the 108th Precinct, Captain John Travaglia had some good news to share with the community.

At Community Board 2’s monthly meeting on Thursday night, along with introducing himself to board members and the audience, Travaglia said they have seen a decrease in crime in the precinct covering Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Maspeth.

In the last 28 days, robberies have been down 8 percent, felony assaults 9 percent, burglaries 6 percent, grand larceny 15 percent, and stolen cars have been down 50 percent, according to Travaglia.

“We’re heading in the right direction. I can’t make promises that it will always stay that way but I hope it does. I hope I can keep up the good work,” Travaglia said at the meeting. “I credit a lot of this reduction to Brian Hennessy and the policies he had in place, and I look forward to continuing those efforts.”

Travaglia replaced Captain Brian Hennessy, who on Nov. 6 became the commanding officer of the 115th Precinct. Before becoming the new top dog at the 108th Precinct, Travaglia was at the 114th Precinct, and before that at the 104th Precinct.

“One of the best holiday Christmas presents I ever got was being assigned to the 108th Precinct,” Travaglia said. “I took over the 108th Precinct from Captain Hennessy. He did a wonderful job. He left me with a well-oiled machine. Our men and women are working very hard and very efficiently, and I just hope I can continue it. It’s pretty big footsteps to follow in.”

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CB 2 names new chair, executive board members


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

With tears in his eyes, Joseph Conley said goodbye to the position he has held for close to three decades as he handed over the reins at Community Board 2 on Thursday night.

Conley officially announced at the December Community Board 2 monthly meeting that he would be stepping down as chair of the board. He gave the news to board members two days before the meeting via a letter.

“It’s been a great honor for me, a great privilege to be a voice of the community board and in some cases the face of the community board,” Conley said during the meeting. “There is no other reason to say other than it’s time.”

Patrick O’Brien, who previously held the position of second vice chair and has been a member of the board for 13 years, was voted as the new chair of Community Board 2.

Although he is stepping down from his position as chair of the board, which covers Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and a part of Maspeth, Conley will finish his term as a board member, which ends in April.

“I have made lifelong friends in this room, people that I have shared my life, my family and you will remain all my friends,” Conley said while tearing up. The members of the board and audience cheered and gave him a standing ovation.

Conley said he joined the board because of the issue of the “squeegee men,” who would attempt to clean car windows on the side of the road at Queens Plaza. Since then he said he has seen each community flourish in its own unique way.

When thinking of his proudest moment of being part of the board, he said it had to be the community’s input for the new Hunter’s Point South Park in Long Island City and helping to come up with affordable housing in that area.

“It’s tough, it’s really tough only from the sense of the inspiration you get every day from people, trying to help people, making a difference — so it’s very hard,” Conley said. “I’m very happy for Pat. He will be a dynamic leader. He’s very thoughtful, and he has a good grasp of the issues in the community, so he will do a great job.”

Along with voting for a new chair, the executive board members decided to also put forth a new “slate” and vote on a new first and second vice chairman, secretary and treasurer. The decision was initially met with opposition from some board members, who said they felt it was too soon to be asked to vote, especially with only knowing two days before that Conley would be leaving.

However, after going back and forth, the members voted and the new executive board was chosen.

“It’s going to take some time to get the lay of the land even having been on the executive board. There are things that the chairman, particularly this chairman, has done that are going to be hard to duplicate, but you find your way and in a couple of months you do your own thing,” O’Brien said.

The new executive board consists of Stephen Cooper continuing as first vice chair, Lisa Deller going from secretary to second vice chair, Diane Ballek staying as treasurer, and Denise Keehan Smith becoming the new secretary.

O’Brien, who is a lifelong Long Island City resident, said he plans to continue the focus on key community issues, such as quality of life, transportation and development.

“We still have all the same issues. We’re going to miss Joe, but we’re not going to stop working towards all of those [issues]. The good news is that he’ll still be around,” O’Brien said. “We have more issues than answers, but that’s why we’ll work on it.”

Community Board 2’s next meeting will be on Jan. 8, 2015.

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Joseph Conley turning over reins of CB2 after decades of leadership


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

An era is coming to an end Thursday night as a longtime community board chair is stepping down after nearly three decades of volunteer service.

Joseph Conley, who has been chairman of Community Board 2 (CB2) for almost 29 years, announced to board members via a letter Wednesday that it is time for him to hand over the reins, according to Sheila Lewandowski, CB2 member. 

“For a lot of us it was a surprise,” Lewandowski said. “He has really done an incredible job.”

Although he is stepping down from his position as chair of the community board, which covers Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and a part of Maspeth, Conley will finish his term on the board as a member.  He is expected to make the official announcement during the board’s monthly meeting on Thursday night. 

Conley’s decision to step down comes as the western Queens neighborhoods serviced by the community board are going through major developments. 

“Community chair is a very tough job, what you do is for the most part unnoticed and unappreciated and he operated at the best interest of the community,” Lewandowski said. 

Lewandowski also added that this changing of the guard serves as an opportunity to open up the spot to other people and also possibly change the dynamic of the overall board. 

“I know there is conversation on whether we should just go for the most likely candidate right now or take a moment to absorb that we will not have Joe and then look around the room,” she said. “I think people are still digesting the fact that Joe won’t be at the helm anymore.”

The community board will be holding an election for officer positions, including chairman, first and vice chairman, secretary and treasurer, at its monthly meeting Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Sunnyside Community Service, located at 43-31 39th St. 

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Off-duty NYPD officer charged with DWI, leaving accident scene in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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Updated Monday, Dec. 1, 4:47 p.m.

An off-duty NYPD officer was charged with driving while intoxicated after leaving the scene of an accident in Woodside on Friday night, authorities said.

The officer, identified by police as Aaron Sanchez, 28, got into a fender bender at the intersection of Northern Boulevard and 50th Street about 10:45 p.m. before driving off in his Ford, the complaint said.

The other driver reported the accident, according to media reports, after Sanchez struck the rear passenger side of the vehicle.

A cop then spotted Sanchez’s car and proceeded to pull him over, court records said. He refused to take a Breathalyzer test after the officer noticed he had alcohol on his breath, slurred speech and was unsteady on his feet.

Sanchez was arraigned on Saturday on charges of DWI and leaving the scene of an accident, according to court records, and released on his own recognizance.

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108th Precinct names new commanding officer


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYPD110Pct

The 108th Precinct has a new top dog.

Captain John F. Travaglia has been named the new commanding officer of the police precinct that covers Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Maspeth.

He is replacing Captain Brian Hennessy, who on Nov. 6 became the commanding officer to the 115th Precinct.

Travaglia began his career in the NYPD in 1993 at the 105th Precinct. Throughout the years, he has also served in the 113th and 104th precincts, and Patrol Borough Queens South, Patrol Borough Queens North, Highway District, Highway 3 and Queens South Narcotics Division.

On Wednesday, Travaglia tweeted from the 108th Precinct’s Twitter account saying, “As the new Commanding Officer of the #108pct, I look forward to working with the wonderful communities of #LIC #Sunnyside #Woodside #Maspeth.”

The next 108th Community Council Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 25, at 7 a.m. at Sunnyside Community Services, 43-31 39th St. in Sunnyside.

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New precinct captain will start ‘Neighborhood Friday’


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Captain Brian Hennessy feels like he is back home, and he’s ready to bring the tools that helped him succeed in the 108th Precinct to his new command.

Hennessy is now the commanding officer of the 115th Precinct, which covers East Elmhurst, north Corona and Jackson Heights. He made the move from the 108th Precinct on Nov. 6, replacing Deputy Inspector Michael Cody, who since transferred to the narcotics bureau.

“The 108 was my first command and the community there was outstanding. To have that as my first command I was very lucky and I was very grateful,” Hennessy said about the precinct, which covers Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and parts of Maspeth. “The community [at the 115] is very involved. It’s going to be good.”

The move for Hennessy is like a return back home, because before becoming the commanding officer of the 108th Precinct in May 2013, he was the second in command at the 115th Precinct for about two years.

“Inspector Cody taught me a lot,” Hennessy said. “He left me in good hands. The community here, just like the 108, is very supportive, very involved. So I enjoyed working here and I’m ecstatic to be back.”

Cody placed an emphasis on community, and Hennessy plans to continue that focus. He hopes to build on relationships with community members and bring in new programs to help strengthen the ties.

One of the big programs he hopes to start up soon is what he calls Community Fridays, which he started at his previous post. Every Friday, volunteers from the precinct and community would address quality-of-life issues such as graffiti and abandoned cars left on the streets. Another issue is homelessness, which Hennessy works closely with the Department of Homeless Services to address.

“Whatever was brought up in a community meeting or a blog or anywhere that we did see a complaint on something that needed to be fixed, we went out and took all the volunteers and did one section a week,” he said. “I’m a big proponent of community first. The relationship between the community and police has to be there in order for us to be successful.”

He also plans to bring in a conditions team to the community in which officers are assigned to different neighborhood and build “personal connections and interaction” with residents.

“They can follow up with any issues. It gives a personal face to the command,” Hennessy said.

Hennessy also hopes to work on the bigger issues in the surrounding neighborhoods such as prostitution and illegally vending on Roosevelt Avenue, gang violence and disturbances that come from the local bars and their patrons.

Working on what he began in the 108th Precinct, Hennessy also plans to start a Twitter account for the 115th Precinct because he said there were positive responses from residents at his previous post.

The next community council meeting for the 115th Precinct, which Hennessy will attend, will be held on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. at the precinct, 92-15 Northern Blvd.

“You know when you come to the meeting and you give me a complaint, I’m going to personally address it,” Hennessy said. “I’m excited to be back, and I can’t wait to get out there and work with the community and help in any way we can.”

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Slow zones rolling into Sunnyside


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Just days before the citywide speed limit will be decreased to 25 mph, the Sunnyside community celebrated the news that it will soon be home to two new slow zones.

The slow zones, which will be launched in Sunnyside Gardens, Woodside and Sunnyside, were designed through input from the community, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Community Board 2 (CB 2).

“There’s nothing more important than keeping our children safe,” Van Bramer said during the announcement on Monday afternoon in front of P.S. 199 in Sunnyside. “The single most important thing for the parents in our district is keeping traffic slow, calm, manageable and keeping their children safe.”

As part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative, the neighborhoods that will be included in these two slow zones were selected based on the transportation agency’s evaluation on crash history, traffic fatalities, community support, and the closeness of schools, senior centers and day care centers.

Slow zones are marked with high-visibility blue signs that warn drivers at all streets entering the zones. Each area has a speed limit of 20 mph and includes speed bumps and eight-foot-high letters on the road that read “20 MPH.”

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has already started to set up the Sunnyside Slow Zone, which is expected to be completed before the end of the year. The borders will be 36th Street, Queens Boulevard, 51st Street and part of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The area is split diagonally by Greenpoint Avenue, which is not part of the slow zone, according to the DOT.

Since 2007 there have been four fatalities in the proposed zone and, since 2008, there have been three severe pedestrian injuries and five severe injuries involving vehicle occupants.

The Sunnyside Slow Zone, which covers an area with four schools including P.S. 199, will be made up of 20 speed bumps, in addition to the current eight bumps, and 31 neighborhood slow zone gateways.

“One thing we have in our community is a lot of traffic. We have a lot of traffic that comes through our neighborhood very fast so this is what it’s about. It’s about saving lives and about improving the quality of our life in the community,” said Joseph Conley, chair of CB 2.

The Sunnyside Gardens-Woodside Slow Zone, which DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Dalila Hall said would begin to be implemented in spring 2015, will be bordered by 43rd Street, 38th Avenue, Barnett Avenue, 58th Street, Queens Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue. There are three schools and three daycare/pre-K centers in the area.

According to the DOT, since 2007 there has been one death in the zone and three severe pedestrian injuries.

This slow zone was proposed to include 18 speed bumps, added to the already existing 12 bumps, and 19 neighborhood slow zone gateways.

“We are committed to Vision Zero, and Vision Zero starts with our children. It starts with young people. We have to make sure that not one young person ever loses their life on the streets of New York,” Van Bramer said.

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Woodside celebrates 3rd Annual ‘Woofside’ Halloween Pet Parade


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Woodside on the Move

Tails were wagging this weekend in Woodside as dozens of four-legged members of the community took part in a spooktacular event.

Community organization Woodside on the Move celebrated its third annual “Woofside” Halloween Pet Parade on Saturday.

Dressed in costumes, the pets enjoyed a day filled with music, a parade with their owners, some also dressed up, and a costume contest.

Funniest costume went to a pooch dressed as a martini cocktail with three olives sticking out of a cone, a ballerina won best trick, a family of Ghostbusters won best matching pet and owner, and a Sons of Anarchy biker won best costume, according to Adrian Bordoni, executive director of Woodside on the Move.

Parade participants learned about programs and rescue options and won raffle prizes and vet services from Skillman Pets, Queens Animal Hospital, Heavenly Angels and the ASPCA Therapy program.

The special guest was Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer who has helped allocate funding for the expanded Woodside Dog Run, Bordoni said.

The annual event received contributions from SUDS Mutts, Friends of Sherry Park Dog Run, and the Woodside Dog Run committee.

For more information on future events, contact abeltran@woodsideonthemove.org.

 

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Real estate roundup: Worst landlords in Queens, new 11-story Elmhurst building revealed


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/ PropertyShark

Sunnyside building winds up on ‘Worst Landlord Watch List’

“New York’s annual “Worst Landlord Watch List” was released last week and it included a poorly-run building in Sunnyside and one in Woodside. The list, released by Public Advocate Letitia James, reported that the third worst building in Queens—in terms of violations—is located at 43-15 46th Street.” Read more [Sunnyside Post]

Revealed: 70-32 Queens Boulevard, Elmhurst

“The new 69-unit residential building at 70-32 Queens Boulevard, in Elmhurst, is being designed by Flushing-based architect Michael Kang. It will include about 55,000 square feet of residential space, with all apartments around 800 square feet in size. In most of the city this would mean rentals, but these will simply be small condos, as is common in New York’s Chinese neighborhoods.” Read more [New York YIMBY]

Planned Parenthood Is Expanding to Queens

Planned Parenthood’s abortion services have made it the target of national activism and federal budget cuts. But in spite of vocal opposition elsewhere, the organization is about to expand in New York City, breaking ground Thursday on its only center in Queens.” Read more [New York Times] 

Watchmaker Bulova selling Woodside headquarters for $30M


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Dnalor 01/ Wikipedia Commons

Bulova Corporation, a watch-making company, is selling its headquarters at 26-15 Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Woodside for $30 million, according to a published report.

The firm, which has owned the two-story office building since moving there in 1986, shifted a portion of its operations into a 33,000-square-foot space in the Empire State Building three months ago, Crain’s reported.

The property also includes a 200-spot parking lot, a warehouse and three acres of land.

The Bulova lot allows for 60,000 square feet of additional building space, which is attractive for developers looking to increase the commercial space at the site.

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Cultural Canopies exhibit awards artists


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Asha Mahadevan

The Courier/Mittman Gallery opened its Cultural Canopies group photography exhibit on Oct. 9 by announcing the winners of its art competition. The exhibit, located at 38-15 Bell Blvd. and curated by Vida Sabbaghi, celebrated the diversity of Queens and Brooklyn and included artists from both boroughs.

The first prize went to Norma Colon for her photograph of a man walking a dog in Brooklyn. Colon has been taking photographs for many years now but when she took this one, it was instinctive. “I just saw a man walking a dog and I clicked it [the picture],” she said, adding that she was “happy” she won the first prize.

The exhibition itself was inspired by Steven Hoelderich’s book Cultural Canopies of Queens. The book is a compilation of storefronts across the borough. Six photos from his book are part of the exhibit and one of them even won an award.

_2Second Prize

Hoeldrich’s photograph of Sean Ogs, a tavern in Woodside, placed second in the competition. “I jumped out of my skin,” when he heard he had won, he said. “I am tickled.” Hoeldrich, a resident of Astoria, took up photography after his grandfather inspired him to do so when he was a child.

Maeen Saleh’s photograph of a tree’s branches against a blue sky won the artist third place in the competition.

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Community rallies to find driver in Queens Boulevard hit-and-run


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

The Woodside community is looking for the driver involved in a hit-and-run on Queens Boulevard that has left one man clinging to life.

According to officials, on Thursday at about 1:35 a.m., the victim, who is still unidentified, was struck on the westbound center lane of Queens Boulevard and 60th Street by a dark-colored Ford SUV as he attempted to cross the thoroughfare. The driver fled the scene.

Currently the victim, described as a Hispanic male in his 20s or 30s, is in critical but stable condition at Elmhurst Hospital, authorities said.

Members of the surrounding Woodside neighborhood gathered on Friday at the intersection to call on the public to help identify the driver involved in the incident.

“The person that struck the young man and left him to die on this street should turn themselves in right away and face the consequences of his/her actions, because what this person did was leave a young man to die,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “It’s one of the worst things that one human being can do to another.”

 

Van Bramer’s Justice for Hit-and-Run Victims Act, created after the councilman’s district faced three fatal hit-and-runs last year, was signed into law on Monday by Mayor Bill de Blasio. It allows the city to establish civil penalties of up to $10,000 to drivers who are found guilty of fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run. The bill will take effect starting Dec. 29.

Students of the Towers Play-N-Learn nursery school cross Queens Boulevard where a man was critically injured in a hit-and-run early Thursday morning.

Students of the Towers Play-N-Learn nursery school cross Queens Boulevard where a man was critically injured in a hit-and-run early Thursday morning.

“Accidents are horrible and terribly unfortunate,” said Jerry LoMonte, resident of the Big Six Towers co-op apartment buildings, located across the street from the collision site. “[Leaving] the scene of the accident is horrible and criminal, and we need to protect ourselves against that.”

Also present at the Friday morning rally was Elizabeth O’Hara, director of Towers Play-N-Learn nursery school, which is also located across the street of where the hit-and-run occurred. She was joined by six students holding signs that read “Please Slow Down, I have small feet,” and “Please stop at the crosswalk.”

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O’Hara asked drivers to slow down while driving on Queens Boulevard and to stop at the crosswalk before getting to the red light.

“At various times Queens Boulevard has been referred to as the Boulevard of Death but the truth is Queens Boulevard is surrounded by life,” Van Bramer said. “We have got to come to a place where this boulevard is no longer viewed as the Boulevard of Death but instead the Boulevard of Life.”

The hit-and-run investigation is still ongoing.

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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Woodside teen charged with selling drugs, guns to undercover cop


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Gavel 2

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

A 19-year-old Woodside resident and alleged gang member has been indicted for selling drugs and illegal guns to an undercover police officer, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

MD A. Ahmed was arraigned on Thursday on a 42-count indictment that includes, among other charges, criminal sale of a firearm, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal sale of a controlled substance.

According to Brown, Ahmed sold 11 guns with ammunition, marijuana and cocaine to the undercover cop between September 2013 and April 2014.

Ahmed is alleged to be a member of 8-Trey, a gang that is a subset of the Crip street gang.

He is currently being held on $200,000 bail. If convicted, Ahmed faces up to 25 years in prison.

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Pedestrian struck in Woodside hit-and-run


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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A man was left critically injured following a hit-and-run in Woodside early Thursday morning, police said.

The victim, believed to be in his 20s or 30s, was crossing at the intersection of Queens Boulevard and 60th Street at about 1:35 a.m. when he was struck by a dark-colored SUV, authorities said. The vehicle then drove off westbound on Queens Boulevard.

The pedestrian was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Police are still looking for the driver.

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