L.I. cops chasing suspect hurt after Hollis car crash

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A high speed pursuit of a car thief in the early morning hours of Oct. 4 that began in Elmont, L.I., ended in Hollis when two Nassau County cruisers crashed into the side of a building on the northwest corner of 205th St. and Jamaica Ave.

The accident, which police said occurred at 1:55 a.m., produced several adverse results: both officers from the 5th Precinct in Elmont were hospitalized, one with a broken leg; the thief eluded capture; and the owner of the building suffered extensive property damage.

Andrew Serba, vice president of Joseph W. Serba Plumbing Corp., said he was awakened at 3 a.m. Friday by a phone call from his brother, company Vice President Stanley Serba. Andrew said officers from the 103rd Precinct entered the company’s offices through the front door, which had been knocked ajar in the accident, and found Stanley’s business card.

The brothers arrived at the scene at 3:30 a.m.

“My first impression, just seeing two cop cars in the side of the building, was how could this have happened?” Andrew said. “OK, one car I can understand. But two?”

A 5th Precinct police spokesman said the two cruisers may have side-swiped each other before crashing into the wall. The officers were chasing a stolen 1991 silver Acura, which had been observed driving in an erratic manner on Gothern Avenue in Elmont.

Both policemen were taken to Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, L.I. Officer Frank Diconza remained under hospital care for a broken leg and a wrist injury. Officer John Bailey was treated for minor injuries and released later that morning.

The suspect has been described as a black male in his 20s dressed in a black jacket. He was last seen fleeing in the car headed north on 205th St.

“Nobody has been apprehended,” the spokesman said. “The investigation is continuing.”

At the accident scene, the Serbas, whose brother Joseph owns the company, began working to secure the site.

“The door frame was completely pushed in, but we were able to push it back just to get the door closed,” Andrew Serba said. “There seems to be some structural damage to the brickwork.”

AndrewSerba said the city Department of Environmental Protection quickly displayed an interest in the damage.

“The Buildings Department has already been here, and they’ve issued us two violations for failure to maintain the facade,” Andrew said.

The citations require the building’s owner to appear in court on Nov. 19. But Andrew Serba said Joseph Serba, a resident of Jensen Beach, Fla., may have trouble making the date.

“He underwent triple bypass surgery recently, so he’s recuperating from that. I don’t think he’s going to be able to make it up here to appear in court.”

Andrew Serba said the company’s business insurance policy will provide a loss determination from a engineer, but he thinks he will have to retain an independent structural engineer to assess the extent of the damage.

“I need someone to say, ‘OK, the building is either safe or this is what has to be done,’” he said. “But I’m having trouble getting someone to do that.”

Joseph W. Serba Plumbing Corp. was founded in 1967. The business has been located at 204-21 Jamaica Ave. for the past 30 years.

“I just want it to move forward in a timely manner,” Andrew said of the assessment and repairs. “That’s all I’m looking for.”

Reach reporter Joe Whalen by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

Updated 7:24 pm, October 10, 2011
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