2005-03-11 / Front Page

Crash Zone Drives Locals Over The Edge

Police inspect the sporty Lexus coupe that barreled onto the sidewalk last week.Police inspect the sporty Lexus coupe that barreled onto the sidewalk last week. Ocean Pointe residents say they are fed up with a slew of recent accidents in which out-of-control autos tear through their yards and driveways, sometimes smashing into property.

In one recent incident, a 24-year-old Bronx man driving a sporty Lexus coupe hit the sidewalk going so fast that two axles broke and the wheels nearly broke off the car.

“His car flew up in the air. It looked like the DeLorean from Back to the Future,” said Eva Bennick, referencing the gull-winged coupe that carried Marty McFly and Doc Brown across the silver screen with its wheels tucked underneath.

The Lexus knocked down a fence and damaged landscaping before striking a new Honda Element that was parked in a driveway at 312 Beach 37 Street. The impact checked the Honda, knocking its rear tires onto the adjacent yard area.

Residents in the budding Bayswater community say this is the latest in a string of accidents that has the new homeowners living in fear for their safety.

“It’s like 11 accidents in under six months,” said Bennick, who was eagerly awaiting this month’s Community Board 14 Meeting which she planned to attend with her neighbors to bring the issue to the board’s attention. The meeting, scheduled for Tuesday night, was cancelled due to the snow.

CB14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska told The Wave he was unaware of a problem in that area, but encouraged residents to contact his office. He said he could coordinate a study by the Department of Transportation, which would be the first step in the remediation of any unsafe conditions.

Other incidents, Bennick said, include spinouts, hit-and-runs and cars careening over the sidewalks. Bennick cited three reasons for the spate of accidents: 1) Work at a construction site nearby pushes sand onto the roadway, 2) Drivers lose control on a curve in the roadway, 3) Many of the drivers, she said, are drunk.

The Bronx man behind the wheel of the Lexus, Michael Smith, of 215 Crotona Avenue, was arrested for drunk driving after police noticed alcohol on his breath. Police also recovered a half-bottle of Hennessy cognac from the front passenger seat, according to court records.

Smith was taken to Peninsula Hospital Center for injuries he suffered in the accident. Police said he refused to take a blood test to determine his blood alcohol content.

In a strange twist, two acquaintances of Smith’s, in another vehicle, tried to leave the scene with their bruised and shaken friend. Witnesses, who had already dialed 911, intervened and held Smith until EMS and police arrived on the scene.

Smith was unable to provide officers with registration or insurance documents for the vehicle, which had Georgia license plates, and police said it was unclear who the car’s owner is. No records were found during a Department of Motor Vehicles computer check, a police source said.

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