A police officer was injured early Sunday morning when an out-of-control vehicle, operated by an alleged drunk driver, drove through Washington Square Park under the arch off Fifth Avenue, knocking over two concrete bollards and striking a patrol car, police reported.
The crash occurred at 1:21 a.m. on Nov. 29, when the 25-year-old driver of a blue Nissan Maxima, drove straight through into Washington Square Park traveling south on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The vehicle struck two concrete posts designed to stop vehicles from entering the park, sending the concrete flying at least 50 feet, smashing into a concrete seating area.
The vehicle continued under the Washington Square Arch, striking a 6th Precinct SmartCar, inside of which an off-duty officer sat. Pedestrians near by were also nearly struck by the car, officials said.
The police officer suffered neck and back injuries and was rushed to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition. Numerous people in the park came to his aid and also detained the alleged drunk driver.
Law enforcement sources said the driver was not hurt in the crash, as his air bags deployed and saved him from serious injury.
Highway police were on the scene during the early morning investigating the crash.
Police later identified the driver as Jeremy Molina, 25, of 206th Street in Bayside Hills, Queens. He was charged with reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, driving while intoxicated, possession of marijuana, and refusal to take a breathalyzer test.
Residents stood and stared at the crash scene, with Molina’s vehicle still sitting at the base of the arch.
“I can’t believe he was able to his those concrete bollards and still go any further,” said Elizabeth Shine, a resident of the West Village. “This kind of thing happened many years ago and people were killed. That’s why they installed those concrete barriers.”
On April 24, 1992, an elderly driver lost control of his vehicle on Washington Square East, drove into the park where he killed four pedestrians and injured dozens before coming to a stop. The Parks Department then installed bollards and concrete barriers to prevent such a crash from causing so much carnage in the future.