NEW YORK — Doing laundry turned violently dangerous in the borough of Staten Island on Sunday morning when a sport- utility vehicle accidentally plowed into a laundromat while in reverse gear. (see video below)
Some of the people doing their laundry at Page Laundromat in the Tottenville Plaza were pinned by the SUV, which was being driven by a 74- year- old man who had just left the nearby Top Tomato grocery store, New York City authorities said.
Six people were rushed to a nearby hospital, three of whom were seriously injured, according to New York Fire Department officials. Eight people were in the laundromat when the car plowed through the front of facility.
Police say the incident appears to have been an accident, and charges have been brought against the driver.
Surveillance video shows the elderly man’s white SUV backing up at a high rate of speed in the parking lot. It then crashes through the glass wall and drives backwards between a row of washing machines, hitting people and tables along the way.
In one video, a person outside can be seen collapsing to the ground as they try to escape from the path of the out- of- control vehicle.
Police say the male driver may have mixed up the gas pedal for the brake pedal when his SUV slammed into the laundromat just after 8 a.m. local time.
“We had this explosion and we see the car coming, but he was coming so fast, there was no time,” said Zoraida Michelle of Tottenville, New York.
Michelle was inside the laundromat doing laundry with her daughter and father, who were temporarily trapped against a dryer by the passing vehicle.
Michelle’s 33-year-old daughter, Jaqueline, was the most seriously injured in the accident. She remained hospitalized as of late Sunday. “Her legs looked like they were twisted up,” Michelle told reporters. “I just held onto her hand until they came.”
After the accident took place, the seemingly disoriented driver attempted to get out of his SUV. As he did so, a woman who was inside the facility appeared to give the man an open-handed slap to his face.
Witnesses said they heard the distressed driver call the accident a horrible mistake. “I was in reverse and I hit the gas pedal,” he told eye witnesses.
The injured people were all taken to Staten Island University Hospital North.
The laundromat suffered more than $20,000 in damages, according to its owner.
One of the victims, a man who didn’t want to be identified, suffered an injury to his arm. “I didn’t get hit by the vehicle, but all these folding tables just came crashing, flying,” he said.
Josephine Torlone, who spoke to NBC 4 New York, said it’s the scariest Sunday she’s ever spent at the laundromat. “I felt like it was almost like a movie scene, where somebody was trying to get revenge on somebody,” she said.
The store owner now has a sign on the front window which reads, “Sorry… Closed due to car accident!”
Watch the video here:
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