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Livery cab crash hurts 13 people at Jackson Heights fair

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An Ecuadorian festival in Jackson Heights was disrupted Sunday when a livery cab plowed into several booths and a crowd of people along Junction Boulevard, sending 13 festival-goers to the hospital with minor injuries.

The driver’s Lincoln Town Car smashed into several booths in front of a Rite Aid store at the corner of Junction Boulevard and 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights around 1 p.m. as rain poured down on the festival. A total of 13 people along the street were taken to Queens hospitals and treated for minor injuries, such as back pains and burns caused by hot grease from food spilling on them during the crash, police said.

The livery cab’s driver was not arrested and does not face any charges, police said.

Witnesses at the scene said the crash sent festival attendees fleeing in fear.

“I thought it was something bombing — it sounded like a boom,” said JoAnne Jung, a vendor who was operating a booth across from the crash site. “It happened so fast. People were screaming and running. It was an awful thing to happen.”

Jung said she was standing in the doorway of a business to avoid the rain when the vehicle veered into the crowd.

Another vendor who operated a chicken pita stand and did not want to be named said he saw the car swerve into the booths and strike several people who appeared to be in their 30s.

Food was strewn all over Junction Boulevard and the livery cab sat in one of the tents into which it crashed as police investigated the scene.

The festival stretched from Roosevelt Avenue to 35th Street along Junction Boulevard and featured more than 200 vendors, including a variety of foods, children’s rides and merchandise booths. The event drew a large crowd despite the torrential downpour throughout much of the afternoon.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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