Errant Auto Turns Eatery Into 'Drive In'
A 77-year-old Rockaway man who had just picked up his wife at Tudor Nails on Beach 116 Street on Sunday says that he suddenly found that his car's accelerator was stuck in the down position and that he was heading for a restaurant across the street.
Arthur Abrams, who lives in a Shore Front Parkway building, told police that he had just picked up his wife and was pulling away from the curb on the western side of the street at about 3:56 p.m. on Sunday, October 8 when the accelerator on his 2001 Toyota Camry stuck, causing the car to speed up out of control, jump the center median and the curb on the eastern side of the shopping street.
The car came to rest halfway into the front facade of Belle Harbor Steaks & Seafood, bringing down half of the wall and injuring two diners who were sitting at a window table.
Other diners in the restaurant for a late Sunday lunch scattered at the sound of a loud crash and the sight of rising dust and smoke. The dozen or so diners were then ordered by police and firefighters to evacuate the restaurant at once.
Injured in the restaurant was Rockaway resident George Sullivan, who was transported to Jamaica Hospital with a badly broken leg and head injuries. He is reportedly in stable condition at the hospital after an operation to repair the break.
Abrams, who was driving the car, was taken to Peninsula Hospital Center with unspecified injuries and remains there at press time. His wife, Jacqueline Abrams, 63, was treated for neck injuries at PHC and released.
Eyewitnesses to the accident told The Wave that the location of the restaurant at 268 Beach 116 Street facilitated the emergency response to the motor vehicle accident. Police officers from Transit District 23, whose headquarters is in the subway station, only a few doors away, were the first on the scene, closely followed by firefighters from the firehouse diagonally across the street from the restaurant.
Later on Sunday, a Department of Buildings inspector, Frank Cosimano, gave Jim Condolios, the owner of the restaurant, permission to reopen the next day after blocking off the affected area and cleaning the entire premises of dust and debris.
The restaurant reopened its doors on Tuesday.
None of those injured in the accident were available for comment.