By: Benjamin Koslowe | News  | 

Drunk Driver Speeds Through 185th St. Pedestrian Plaza, No One Injured

A drunk driver broke through security barriers to speed through the 185th St. Pedestrian Plaza on the night of Friday, May 17 shortly after 10:30 p.m. The driver, who was attempting to avoid capture by law enforcement, evaded police for roughly 20 minutes before being apprehended by officers several blocks from Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus. No one was injured.

The 185th St. Pedestrian Plaza is situated on the Wilf Campus in Washington Heights between Audubon Ave. and Amsterdam Ave. The plaza was inaugurated in Sept. 2017 after years of renovating and building. Bordered on the north and south by YU’s Glueck Center and Furst Hall, respectively, the plaza contains benches and tables on which students and Washington Heights residents regularly relax and fraternize. The entrances on the east and west ends are protected by security barriers, heavy schist boulders and large potted plants. The university maintains responsibility for the plaza’s security and maintenance, pursuant to its agreement with the City.

According to several eyewitnesses, the perpetrator, a male driving a Jeep, entered the plaza after speeding up Audubon Ave. in an attempt to evade police officers. The man knocked over a 10-foot tall “Do Not Enter” sign, which was still lying broken on the plaza floor as of the time of publication. A Maryland license plate was left on the spot as well, although it has since been removed by officials. The man then slammed into a protective boulder and plant at a high enough speed to crack the plant container and push the boulder several feet, clearing enough space such that he was able to gain entrance onto the plaza.

“I heard a huge crash from about a block away,” described CJ Glicksman (YC ‘20), who was walking to his apartment at the moment of the incident. “I heard some local residents yell ‘Hit and run!’ and then a white SUV zoomed down my block … My cousin later told me that she had seen a white SUV speeding up 184th St. — a one-way street — the wrong way.”

Once on the plaza, the man drove at full speed towards Amsterdam Ave. and crashed into another boulder on the eastern end of the plaza. The boulder was pushed roughly 5 feet from its original place, and the man’s airbag deployed upon impact. According to one eyewitness, who was standing feet from the crash, the man backed up and made several attempts to use his car to push the boulder a few feet further to clear a passage for his escape. When his machinations failed, the man turned the car around and sped back towards the plaza’s western entrance whence he came. The man was apprehended several blocks away by police officers roughly 20 minutes later.

“Honestly, I’m pretty happy that YU Security had the forethought to put those giant yellow metal structures across the plaza,” figured Glicksman. “If those weren’t there, the car could have easily gotten through and may have really hurt people.”

“The planters at the end of the plaza successfully slowed the vehicle and allowed pedestrians to move out of the way,” wrote Paul Murtha, YU’s Director of Security. “YU Security is working closely with the police and they do not believe that there is any danger to the students, faculty and staff. We will continue to work with the police and will provide updates as needed.”

This article has been updated to include a statement from YU's Department of Security.


Photo Caption: The 185th St. Plaza the night after the incident
Photo Credit: The Commentator