Elderly woman hit by van in Whitestone

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A 77-year-old woman was critically injured by a delivery van as she attempted to cross a busy Whitestone street Monday afternoon, police said.

The woman, Helen Demas of 20th Avenue, was rushed to New York Hospital Medical Center Queens after the accident at the intersection of 150th Street and 14th Avenue in the middle of Whitestone’s shopping district, police said.

Demas was still listed in critical condition a day after the accident.

Police did not say whether or not the 33-year-old driver of the van, Kenneth Reinhardt, would be charged with a crime or issued a summons in connection with the accident, which was under investigation.

The white van was making a left turn from 14th Avenue south onto 150th Street when the vehicle struck the woman at about 3:40 p.m., police said.

People who rushed to see what had happened said the woman was knocked 15 feet away from where the van had come to a halt.

“It was really a very scary accident,” said Barbie Stavile, who runs Barbie Stavile Real Estate at the corner of 150th Street and 14th Avenue. “It just hit her, and she went flying.”

Demas was barely able to move after being struck, witnesses said.

“She couldn’t talk. She couldn’t open her eyes,” Stavile said. “She was in shock.”

The van which struck the woman is used by Sterling’s Pet Suppliers Inc., based in Kew Gardens.

The business brings pet food and supplies to men and women, most of whom are elderly, who have trouble leaving their homes, Reinhardt said.

Reinhardt, who otherwise did not want to discuss the incident, said he was in between making deliveries in Whitestone when the accident occurred.

Police and people who worked in businesses near the scene of the incident said accidents are common at the busy intersection.

“We’ve seen a lot,” said 109th Precinct Captain Michael Lau. “It’s a commercial area.”

Pat Patel, owner of Pat’s Stationers & Grocery at the corner of 150th Street and 14th Avenue, said he thought the sun could have contributed to the accident.

“The sun glare probably bothered him,” Patel said. “I’ve been here 20 years. It happens. People go fast. They don’t think.”

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

Posted 7:25 pm, October 10, 2011
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