Sunday, October 10, 2010

34th Street Accident

I didn't see where the cab came from, whether it turned off of 6th Avenue or came straight through the intersection from the direction of 5th. I heard a thud and people yelling, and saw the cab stopped short on 34th Street in front of Macy's, with people lying on the ground next to it. Two police officers who happened to be nearby rushed over. Crowds of passersby formed on the sidewalks. A man in a brown leather coat started yelling at the cab driver from across the street. Everybody was a witness to what happened, he said, and the driver had better just stay in the cab or he was gonna get his ass kicked. The driver yelled something back in a heavy accent, pleading his case while his passenger looked on.

Three people were sitting in the street, two women and a man. A police car was parked in the intersection with lights flashing, blocking the west-bound lane from the 6th Avenue side. One of the women had on a grey jacket and skirt. She was shaking and crying slightly. The other woman was dressed in black. She was trying to calm her down. The man had glasses and looked Hispanic. The woman in black was telling people he had stepped in front of her and the other woman, trying to protect them from being hit.

People kept asking them how they were doing. The woman in black was holding her leg. She said it didn't feel like she broke anything. A tall black man in a sweatshirt offered to be a witness if they needed one. He said he would give them his contact information. He gave the woman in the grey jacket a piece of paper and asked me if I had a pen. I had one in my pocket and I handed it to her. A woman in a denim jacket and jeans brought over a metal chair from the pedestrian walkway around the corner at Herald Square. A short Indian man said the injured people shouldn't sit in chairs. People seemed to agree they should stay where they were.

Emergency vehicles converged from different directions, a firetruck, two ambulances, a large police van. Firefighters in long black-and-yellow coats, FDNY paramedics in dark t-shirts, uniformed and plainclothes officers crowded around. Police leaned into the cab window, talking to the driver. Stretchers were brought off the ambulances. At some point, I looked back and the people sitting in the street had been taken away. Within several minutes more, the emergency vehicles had left, traffic was flowing through the intersection, the crowds had dispersed and people were walking down the sidewalks along 34th Street again.

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