3 dead when car plows into trick-or-treaters

NEW YORK: First responders examine an automobile after its driver lost control and plowed into a group of trick-or-treaters. — AP
NEW YORK: First responders examine an automobile after its driver lost control and plowed into a group of trick-or-treaters. — AP

NEW YORK: A street full of trick-or-treaters turned into a Halloween horror scene when an out-of-control car jumped a curb and careened into a group of costumed revelers, killing three people, including a 10-year-old girl and her grandfather. The crash injured three other trick-or-treaters, along with the driver, police said. Witnesses described hearing a loud boom, followed by screaming and crying, then seeing a trail of mangled bodies in crumpled, bloodied costumes.

“I saw a torso on the sidewalk. I didn’t know if it was a Halloween dummy or a real person,” neighbor Fabio Cotza told the New York Post. “I just grabbed a whole bunch of towels and ran outside.” Celebration turned to terror just before 5 p.m. Saturday as the group of trick-or-treaters walked down a quiet residential block in the Morris Park neighborhood of the Bronx.

A 52-year-old man behind the wheel of the black Dodge Charger plowed into the pedestrians on a sidewalk and then smashed through a fence in front of a home, police said. The car was left teetering on a brick wall. A child’s shoe and remnants of mangled stroller lay on the sidewalk just feet away. Moments before the car jumped the sidewalk, the driver had crossed over a double yellow line in the road after bumping into the back of a Toyota Camry, police said.

“There was a family of kids trick-or-treating, walking behind me,” Kristina DeJesus told WABC-TV. “All of a sudden … I heard the boom, and the car like literally jumped over a parked car and flew into the gate, hitting a bunch of people.” Sixty-five-year-old Louis Perez suffered severe head trauma and died at the scene, police said. His granddaughter, 10-year-old Nyanna Aquil, and 24-year-old Kristian Leka, were taken to a hospital, where they were pronounced dead. Police did not know if or how Leka was related to the others.

Authorities said a 3-year-old girl was critically injured. A 21-year-old woman, a 9-year-old girl and the driver of the car also were taken to the hospital with injuries not believed to be life-threatening. “The little girl in the cat costume, she was hurt, she was screaming,” Cotza, the neighbor, told WNBC-TV. “It just didn’t look real … like this is a Halloween joke.”

A crowd of costumed onlookers descended on the scene Saturday night as investigators worked to determine the cause of the crash. No charges had been filed. Hours after the crash, neighbors gathered for a small candlelight vigil to remember the victims. “This is a sad situation, especially today, it’s Halloween,” Anna Crecco said. “It’s going to affect a lot, something like this has never happened here. Everyone’s going to remember when they pass by.” – AP

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