Three people were in critical condition Monday afternoon after a taxi hit the sidewalk in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighborhood. The driver rammed a cyclist and several pedestrians with his vehicle, authorities said.
Around 1 p.m., according to firefighters, the taxi crashed into a building near 29th Street and Broadway, an area full of bars, restaurants and hotels. Police were investigating the cause of the collision, which they currently believe was an accident.
As the driver turned left onto Broadway, police say his cab struck a cyclist and swerved onto the sidewalk. The vehicle then accelerated and pushed two women against a wall.
Mamadou Barry, 40, was among the pedestrians who witnessed the collision. He said the cyclist remained conscious, but with his arm twisted unnaturally.
Mr Barry joined more than a dozen other bystanders in pulling the taxi away to free a victim who had been run over. As the pedestrians screamed, Mr Barry looked away, not wanting to see the extent of the injuries. “It was scary,” he said.
Deputy Chief John Chell of the police department told a press conference that “a remarkable scene occurred: approximately 15 to 20 New Yorkers attempted to steal this cab from these women.”
Mohammad Khan, the owner of a perfumery in the neighborhood, said he rushed to the crash site after hearing a commotion in his shop, arriving to find the victims with bloody wounds. Passers-by offered them water and comforted them as they waited for ambulances to arrive, he said.
The police department was investigating whether the crash was caused by the driver having experienced a “medical episode,” a spokesperson said earlier Monday.
At least six people were injured and taken to hospital, including the taxi driver, authorities said. Three suffered life-threatening injuries.
The taxi was still on the scene around 3 p.m., near a juice store and a dessert store. The driver’s door was open, next to a bicycle in the green lane.
The crash comes amid a startling rise in road deaths during the pandemic in the city and across the country.
In New York, crashes killed 59 people in the first three months of this year, according to data from Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group for cyclists and pedestrians. It’s the deadliest start to the year since 2014, when then-Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his Vision Zero road safety program that aimed to eliminate road deaths by 2024.
The number of cars in the city has also jumped during the pandemic as more people have avoided public transport. According to data from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a recent weekend in June had about 60% of the subway ridership of a comparable pre-pandemic weekend.
Mayor Eric Adams recently announced a $904 million investment in safer streets over the next five years, money that would help with amenities like more protected bike lanes and pedestrian-only spaces. He also said police officials would step up traffic enforcement.