Police have yet to track down the red Jeep Cherokee that sped through an intersection on Friday, taking out another car and pinning a teenaged pedestrian against a post.
The accident occurred on the corner of 47th Street and Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside, shortly after 10 a.m. It left the unidentified teenager in peril of losing one or both of his legs and the silver Honda Civic, owned by Sunnyside resident Diana Albornoz, a mangled mess.
The teenager was transported to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan and the other four victims, who suffered lesser injuries, to Queens hospitals. According to published reports, the teenager had only been in the United States a few days and was crossing the street with his mother when the accident happened.
Queens Boulevard has long suffered a reputation for being treacherous. A history of frequent accidents has earned it the nickname Boulevard of Death.
In May, a family of three was struck, though no one died, at 68th Street. Last October, Yakub Aminov was killed crossing on 67th Avenue in Forest Hills. Still, the statistics are a far cry from the 10 fatalities a year the boulevard averaged in the 1990s.
Vast improvements came in 2001, when the Department of Transportation outfitted certain intersections with police surveillance cameras and extended crossing signal time from 35 to 60 seconds. In 2004 and 2005, fatalities dropped to two a year.
Advocates say that while Queens Boulevard is still not “comfortable,” the department would do well to turn its attention to other trouble spots, where accidents tend to be concentrated. “Ten percent of all New York City intersections have over 50 percent of all crashes,” explained Brooke Dubose of Transportation Alternatives.
Dubose suggested that Queens Boulevard could be made safer with the addition of cameras that catch drivers who blow through red lights. Police reported that the suspect vehicle in this case may have been racing to catch the light at 47th Street when it careened into the other car, which was attempting a right turn onto the boulevard.
Eyewitnesses also reported that the Jeep, which is suspected of being stolen, was speeding.
The president of the 108th Precinct Community Council, Diane Ballek, said that is a problem the precinct is actively working on, with radar guns clocking cars on the boulevard.
She said the monitoring is only in the morning and can’t prevent every driver from hitting the gas when they approach the intersection.
“I do it myself, when the light is changing to yellow, you move a little bit faster, but speeding is done all the time,” she said.
10 Most Dangerous Pedestrian Crossings
(based on average annual injuries/deaths 2002-2004)
1. Roosevelt Avenue and Main Street, Flushing (33)
2. Kissena Boulevard and 41st Avenue, Flushing (30)
3. Jamaica Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard, Woodhaven (28)
4. Union Street and Northern Boulevard, Flushing (26)
5. Queens Boulevard and 63rd Drive, Rego Park (21)
6. Parsons Boulevard and Hillside Avenue, Jamaica (20)
7. Jamaica Avenue and Parsons Boulevard, Jamaica (20)
8. Mott Avenue and Beach Channel Drive, Rockaway (19)
9. Main Street and Sanford Avenue, Flushing (19)
10. Jamaica Avenue and 168th Street, Jamaica (17)
—Source: Transportation Alternative