Volume 20, Number 49 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | APRIL 19 - 26, 2008

Downtown Express photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio

A car crashed into State Supreme Court last Friday injuring six people including the driver.

Six injured as car slams into courthouse

A driver whose licensed had been revoked lost control of his car at 10:54 a.m. Fri., April 11 and jumped the curb in front of State Supreme Court, 60 Centre St., struck a coffee cart and overran the lower court house steps, injuring himself and five other people.

Lorenzo Bello, 33, of Queens, was driving north on Centre St. when he suffered a seizure and lost control of his 1999 Nissan. The car struck a fire hydrant, crashed into the cart and mounted the first four steps of the court house pinning one 32-year-old man against the brass stairway railing.

The victim, who was pinned, was the most seriously injured and was taken to Bellevue with a broken leg. The vendor, 26, suffered hot water burns and a broken nose and was taken to St. Vicent’s. A woman, 35, sustained a thigh injury and was treated at Bellevue while Bello sustained minor injuries and was treated at Bellevue. His wife, 45, who was a passenger, was treated for minor injuries at St. Vincent’s.

Another woman, 58, jumped out of the way after the car jumped the curb and escaped injury, police said.

“I thought it was some kind of explosion,” said Ashish Kapoor, 26, who witnessed the accident on his way to visit some friends.

Kapoor, a law student from New Jersey, was standing amidst a throng of reporters with a TV camera pointed at him, only a stone throw away from the beige Nissan with shattered windshield and deflated airbag. He said the food vendor leaped out of his silver cart upon impact with his face bleeding. After the Nissan crashed into the banister, the female passenger ran out of the car yelling “the people, the people” in Spanish and passed out on the ground, Kapoor said.

“It could have been a lot worse,” he said. ”I’m just grateful to be alive.”

Bello has had several traffic citations and lost his license permanently last year. He was charged with reckless endangerment, vehicle assault and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. He was freed on $2,000 bail pending a May 19 court appearance

One hour after the crash, the scene of the accident in front of the 1927 landmark had stray newspapers flying around, and curious bystanders clutched the yellow police tape to snap pictures with their cell phones. Bagels and bottled drinks leaked out of the smashed cart, whose 26-year-old vendor was taken to St. Vincent Hospital, officials said.

Gloria Atkinson, 39, was ordering a cream cheese bagel and coffee as her 22-year-old son, Anthony, heard the roar of an engine.

“When I turned around and saw the car, I just grabbed my mom,” said Atkinson, who also pointed out that he never got his bagel.

“We should get our money back,” he quipped.

­— Sebastian Kahnert and Albert Amateau





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