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A Far Rockaway man was arrested Monday on drunk driving charges after the U-Haul van he was driving collided with a sport-utility vehicle on a Francis Lewis Boulevard overpass, sending both falling 20 feet onto the Laurelton Parkway and closing the highway for several hours, police said.
Only four people were injured none seriously in the Laurelton accident that dropped 1,000 pounds of concrete debris and 160 feet of fencing onto the two-lane highway at 10:40 a.m. Monday, city Department of Transportation officials said.
I cant believe no one really got hurt, said Deputy Inspector Michael Bryan, commanding officer of the 105th Precinct. Thats a 20-foot drop.
The U-Haul rental van driven by Taylor Torre, 32, sideswiped a Kia Sportage SUV, driven by a 41-year-old off-duty Corrections officer, as the two were traveling west on Francis Lewis Boulevard. It was unclear how the two vehicles broke through the wall and fencing along the overpass spanning the Laurelton Parkway, Bryan said.
The U-Haul van landed on the passenger side in the highway median and the Kia landed on its roof in the northbound lanes of the parkway, police said.
Torre, of Beach Channel Drive in Far Rockaway, was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident and the unauthorized use of a vehicle, police said.
Torre suffered minor head injuries, but managed to climb out of the severely damaged van and allegedly tried to run, according to police.
The woman driving the Kia, whose name was not released, was taken to Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica in stable condition.
Concrete debris unleashed by the accident struck six cars on the highway, injuring two people slightly, police said.
I was coming onto the Cross Island, and debris from the bridge fell right in front of my car, said Judy McCafferty, of Staten Island, who was not hurt in the accident.
I held onto the wheel and drove over these mountains of cement. I just kept driving until I thought I was out of traffic and then I looked back and saw the van falling, she said.
The accident closed the northbound lanes of the Laurelton Parkway, which connects the Belt Parkway to the Cross Island Expressway, until about 2 p.m., while city Department of Transportation workers cleared the concrete debris fencing, said Lisi de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for the agency. DOT also set up temporary fencing and 10 jersey barriers along the Francis Lewis overpass, which reopened to traffic about 6:30 p.m., she said.
Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.
©2003 Community Newspaper Group
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