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CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND LIAM LA GUERRE
Five students were injured when an SUV jumped the curb in Maspeth Thursday morning.
The incident happened around 7:50 a.m. in front a deli at 71st Street and Grand Avenue, about a block from the students’ school, I.S. 73, cops said. The students are three 13-year-old girls, a 12-year-old boy and a 13-year-old boy, police said.
The students were taken to Elmhurst Hospital in serious, but not life-threatening condition, according to fire officials. One of the 13-year-old girls has a broken leg and another girl has a fractured leg, authorities said.
One girl was trapped underneath the vehicle, a silver Honda Pilot, when the students were hit, according to witnesses. Good Samaritans lifted the vehicle and a resident pulled the girl out.
“I was so overwhelmed. I’m still in shock,” said Candice Cruz, who lives above the deli. When the car hit the students, she hurried to help and pulled the girl out from under the car. “Seeing the little body under there and the little girl trying to breathe, it was horrible.”
Photo courtesy of Candice Cruz
The driver of the SUV, who is a 40-year-old male, was trying to park the vehicle in a spot in front the deli, but pressed on the gas pedal too hard, according to authorities. Police did not charge the driver with a crime.
The corner is usually filled with many children in the morning during school time, and many students go into the store to get breakfast, according to Julio Lopez, who works at the deli.
“I just [stepped off] the sidewalk because my friend called me,” said Weiss Safdary, a 10th grader at Grover Cleveland High School. “I would have been under there too.”
“Usually in the morning we’re comfortable because it’s safe, but today was different,” said Carl Panganbian, another 10th grader from Grover Cleveland, who said he knows one of the injured students. “Maybe they should put a metal thing on the sidewalk. It’s for student safety, because you never know when [an accident] is going to happen,” he added.
Grand Avenue is usually a busy commercial strip with many vehicles, but residents said accidents like this one are rare.
“Five years working over here, I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Gabino Calle, 32, who works at a pizza restaurant on the block.