Grand Avenue sees death of two truck drivers

Two dead in separate Maspeth incidents on same day

By Jessica Meditz

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One of the crashes occurred at the intersection of Borden and Grand Avenues in Maspeth. Photo by Robert Baranja.

Two truck drivers died within hours of each other in two separate incidents on Wednesday while working on Grand Avenue in Maspeth.

The first crash occurred at around 2:50 a.m. on Nov. 9, when 49-year-old Chad Hallenbeck of East Durham, N.Y. was struck in front of 56-05 Grand Avenue by a 2007 Chevy sedan going westbound, according to police.

When officers from the 104th Precinct responded, they observed Hallenbeck unconscious and unresponsive, lying on the roadway with severe body trauma.

Emergency Medical Services pronounced him dead at the scene, and transported the operator of the sedan to NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, where she is listed in stable condition, having sustained minor injuries.

Following an investigation performed by the NYPD Highway District’s Collision Investigation Squad, the vehicle operator was identified as a 43-year-old female, who remained at the scene.

It was determined that while traveling westbound on Grand Avenue, she crossed over the double yellow line into the eastbound travel lane — striking Hallenbeck and his parked and unoccupied tractor trailer.

No arrests were made and the investigation remains ongoing.

Later in the day at around 10:40 a.m., about a mile down the road at the intersection of Grand and Borden Avenues, a truck driver operating a 2023 Freightliner Truck crashed into the cement pillar in front of Maspeth Federal Savings Bank. The collision also left the shelter for the Q58 and 59 buses shattered and destroyed.

Photo by Robert Baranja

Police say the driver, 50-year-old Stephen Roy Bennington of Croydon, P.A. experienced a medical episode behind the wheel.

He was taken to NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, where he was pronounced deceased.

Robert Baranja, who works in Maspeth nearby, said he saw the crashed CVS Health truck when he stepped outside of work.

He was pleased to see the site cleaned up quickly and the FDNY’s timely response.

“It’s unfortunate what happened, but the fire department is right there,” he said. “The bridge and the LIE are right there too, so as far as the location where it was, it could have been a lot worse.”

According to the DOT, Maspeth is ranked No. 4 for highest freight activity out of the city’s 21 established Industrial Business Zones.

The Maspeth Industrial Business Zone is home to more than 850 industrial businesses.

Woman lucky to be alive after Forest Hills car crash, will dedicate her heart to communities

Two heroes perform miraculous rescue on Greenway N

By Michael Perlman

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Greenway North in Forest Hills, scene of the accident.

On Aug. 29 at 2 p.m., a kind, healthy and positive-minded woman survived a serious car crash, which resulted in being trapped in an overturned Toyota Prius on Greenway North.

Every day is a blessing, with much to be grateful for, according to Forest Hills resident Eve G. (who requested her full last name be omitted).

She was a passenger who attributes her survival to the miracles of two strangers named Margaux and Brian who did not know one another, but acted on impulse to carry her out of the car at the precise timing.

Furthermore, she owes the miracle to her Catholic faith and the love of her family, beginning with her mother, her best friend.

“I was so happy that morning, when I awoke and put on a brand-new outfit,” Eve said. “I said that today is going to be a big day. I was coming from Jones Beach, going to my home. I was listening to the radio and was very happy.” She last remembers her calling her mother and being close to home. She said, “I’ll be home in five minutes. Don’t worry. I love you, mom.”

The next instance that she recalls is waking up in the middle of the road, with a woman holding her in her arms, comparable to a mother holding a baby.

“I remember seeing the car upside down and all I could do was cry, and I said ‘Thank God I’m alive,’” she said.

Eve was admitted to Jamaica Hospital’s Trauma Center for nearly a week, whereas the driver was evaluated and discharged on the same day.

She sustained a broken leg, a broken neck and one laceration on her head and nearby welts of dried blood, which resulted in being stitched from the front.

She had much to share about the importance of having faith.

“My faith has grown, since I pleaded with God and really asked him to let me live. Here I am telling this story,” she said.

She made gestures as she stated, “I realize that I could have lost my arms, lost my hands, lost my legs, and I could have been paralyzed, but I can move my toes and I’ll be able to walk soon.”

Eve owes much gratitude to her two “guardian angels.”

“For those people to be walking on Greenway North and coming to my aid and removing and holding someone and telling them, ‘Everything will be okay’…a complete stranger…those are heroes, because not everyone can do that,” she explained.

“When I opened my eyes, I saw lots of people staring with their mouths open. Not many people are brave enough,” she continued. “I was held and reassured, and we prayed together until the ambulance came. I don’t know who those people are, but I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

She is also thankful to some hospital staff members.

“They had strong and touching words to say such as, ‘Snap out of it’ and ‘You’re going to be strong,’” she added.

Eve feels that Margaux, whose birthday was on the day of the accident, gave herself the best possible gift in the name of a courageous deed, as in giving birth to a renewed lease on life.

She reminisced, “I had a panic attack in a psychologist’s arms. She is a perfect angel. I remember passing in and out. When I awoke, my vision was blurry. As I was in her arms, Brian said, ‘Don’t worry. The ambulance is here.’”

Not long after 2 p.m., the timing continued to be on her side.

According to Eve, if not for her mailman Kenny, who witnessed the aftermath, her mother may not have been informed at her doorstep about the accident, at least on a timely basis.

Additionally, her cell phone among other possessions may not have been recovered by her mother from a car slated for the junkyard.

“When my mom was frantic, he reassured her that I am okay and standing,” Eve said. Kenny is considered to be a true friend.

In regard to her faith and fate, she thanks her heroes for being in the right place at the right time.

“God had to use these people to come to my aid and serve as angels. He said, ‘Okay, these people will get you out of the car. I know it,’” she said. “They didn’t know what was going to happen, and I didn’t know.”

She is also deeply grateful that she did not take her toy poodle, Winnie, with her in the car, as initially planned.

Eve G. and her dog, Winnie.

Before her accident, Eve never took life for granted.

“I always cherished every moment. I considered myself a religious and grateful person, but now even more so. God gave me a second chance. Now that I’m alive, I will come back stronger. You have to love life,” she said.

She cited the ability to shower, eat on your own, walk and open a door.

She continued, “You never know what tomorrow may bring. One minute you’re at the beach enjoying life, but the next minute you’re at the hospital. I was a completely healthy adult. Within the blink of an eye, your life can radically change, so tell your loved ones, ‘I love you’ and don’t forget to give thanks for everything.”

Eve had the opportunity to reunite by phone with one hero so far, thanks to the power of community behind Facebook groups and NextDoor.

“I was thrilled to hear from Margaux and thanked her. She said, ‘Anyone would have done it,’ but I told her, ‘Not anyone steps up.’”

Furthermore, Eve hopes to reunite with her other hero.

“I want to tell Brian that he’s also brave to remove me. He was comforting as if he knew me. I want to thank him too and give him a hug,” Eve added.

As for her recovery, she explained that the doctors have faith that she will be walking in no time, with the aid of physical therapy. In addition, she makes sure to wear her brace.

A few days ago, after learning about the “It’s A Miracle” TV series, she became an instant fan.

“It reinforces your belief in how there are angels on Earth. They are not just invisible. They are placed here by God to save other human beings. Every day there are miracles. In an episode, a hero threw himself into a river and rescued a boy who was drowning, and another hero knew how to perform CPR,” she said.

Eve’s mother emigrated from Peru, and her father from Guatemala.

She and her mother relocated from New Hyde Park to Forest Hills two years ago, but she long considered Forest Hills to be her home.

She would play at Ehrenreich-Austin Playground and take swimming lessons on Queens Boulevard.

She continues to embrace an active lifestyle and said, “I want to thank God that I am an expert in yoga, since now I am able to hop and stand on my good leg for a long period of time.”

Her interests also include sharing quality family time, Austin Street nightlife, the beach, the gym, Zumba and being a top fan of “Unsolved Mysteries,” where she looks into various cases.

“I also enjoy running on the beach with my dog, Winnie, and going to dog parks,” she added.

She attends Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church (OLQM) and set a goal to attend more often.

“I am a devotee of Padre Pio. Three months ago, I visited the National Centre for Padre Pio, after finding out about him through my church. He performs miracles such as giving a girl a new bladder by interceding through God.”

Eve G. with Padre Pio, weeks before the car crash.

She plans to follow in Padre Pio’s footsteps, who was known for his piety and the quality of his preaching.

“I will be giving as many testimonies as I can at churches, beginning with OLQM and my original church, Notre Dame in New Hyde Park, so people can believe more in God. Testimonies feed your soul that God truly exists. Some people may think that there’s no way I would have made it out alive in a flipped-over car. I am going to speak from the heart with every cell in my body that Jesus exists, since he saved my life.”

Now, Eve finds herself talking to God one-on-one, with an aim of determining upcoming goals.

“He obviously wants me to do bigger things, and whatever that is, I will do it,” she said. “He gave me a second chance and I’m not going to waste it.”

Undoubtedly, Eve is a trooper, who discovers a guiding light in her favorite verse Philippians 4:13, which states, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Another E-Scooter Crash

Queens Boulevard is known for being a notoriously dangerous roadway. Thanks to the sudden increase of micro-mobility scooters and e-bikes, and the integrated bike lanes, it seems like this already dangerous thoroughfare is becoming more dangerous than ever.

Meanwhile, this trend of scooter and e-bike riders getting hit by cars continues to grow. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were more than 190,000 emergency room visits caused by micromobility products between 2017 and 2020, representing a 70 percent increase in overall accidents.

Last Wednesday, another scooter driver was hit on Queens Boulevard in Rego Park around 9:30 a.m. Officers from the 112th police Precinct responded to a 9-1-1 call of a motor vehicle collison near the Capital One Bank located at 95-25 Queens Blvd.

Their investigation determined that a 61-year-old woman driving a 2013 Chevrolet traveling on 62nd Drive, made the turn onto Queens Boulevard, where she collided with a 51-year-old woman operating a scooter on the service road.

EMS promptly transported the 51-year-old woman to the nearby Long Island Jewish Forest Hills Northwell Health hospital in stable condition.

It is unclear who was at fault in this accident, or if the scooter was operated in accordance with city guidelines.

Some local elected officials, including New York City Councilman Robert Holden, who represents District 30, feel that these motorized scooters and bikes pose a threat to all who encounter them.

In his district last week, a grandmother and a toddler being pushed in a stroller were hit by an e-biker who ran a light. Although no one was seriously hurt, he does not take this incident lightly.

“People are getting killed, and these things are causing accidents,” Holden said. “It’s becoming like a third world country, because anything goes in the streets of New York.”

“My goal is to get rid of these illegal scooters,” he continued. “The cops have to cooperate and confiscate them.”

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