“This is something that is brought up by parents all the time,” said Maryann Johnson, president of the Parent Teacher Association at P.S. 58, standing at the intersection of Grand Avenue and 71st Street, where the accident occurred. “We have been trying to address this problem for a long time.”
With P.S. 58, I.S. 73 and Maspeth High School all within about four blocks of each other, I.S. 73 PTA president Joanne Berger estimates there are about 4,000 students on the streets in the morning and when school lets out in the afternoon.
“There are kids everywhere,” she said. “We really need to do something about this.”
Some of the ideas that were brought up included better signage, enforcing no standing zones and ticketing double-parked cars, and creating a slow zone that would lower the speed limit to 20 m.p.h. while school is in session.
“As far as the signage, we can move pretty quickly on that,” said Hall. “Some other measures might take a little more time.”
DOT is moving forward with a plan to make 70th Street a northbound one-way street to improve safety around I.S. 73, but has to wait while school is on break to make the changes, meaning work probably won't start until the spring.
Five students from that school were injured, including three who had to be rushed into surgery, after an SUV lost control and jumped the curb at approximately 8 a.m. on the morning of September 12. Maspeth resident David Foubister came across the accident at the intersection of Grand Avenue and 71st Street just after it happened. He said a group of people lifted the vehicle off best friends Ashley Khan, 13, and Marina Abadir, 14, who were pinned underneath. "We lifted the car and pulled the girls out," he said. Minutes later emergency crews arrived on the scene. The girls were taken to a local hospital. Abadir needed surgery on both her elbows and suffered a spine fracture, as well as bruises and burns all over her body. She was listed in critical condition. Meanwhile, Khan underwent surgery to repair a fractured leg and pelvis. Investigators say driver Francis-Aung Lu mistakenly hit the accelerator instead of the brake, causing him to lose control of the car. He stayed on the scene and was cooperating with police. No charges have been filed. The accident comes during the first week of school and just as the city prepares to deploy 20 mobile speeding cameras to crack down on fast drivers in the city's 100 most dangerous school zones.