Earlier today at approximately 1 p.m. a man driving a vehicle north bound on South Ocean Avenue crashed into the front of the TriTec building in the soon to be Arooga’s Grille House and Sports Bar.
According to Roger Passero, owner of Mother’s Movies located on South Ocean Avenue, the man driving the car flew past his store at a high rate of speed, in what Passero assumed to be an attempt to beat the red light. Anticipating a huge crash, Passero immediately dialed 911.
“The driver hit the pole and went right inside the window,” he said. “He drove so fast right past my store.”
Another witness, Charles Vasquez, Patchogue resident, said he saw the driver hit the building and get pulled out of his vehicle.
From there, the man laid on the ground, covered in blood, screaming in pain. Hundreds gathered watching the horror.
John Rocco, Patchogue Ambulance Company CEO, said people run into buildings or homes often, though it is not an everyday occurrence. However, he added that it is not everyday you see accidents with the potential for a large-scale mass casualty and notoriety of the four corners as this one.
“I’ve seen some horrific accidents on Main Street but this guy was very fortune he didn’t plow into a ton of people,” he said.
According to Rocco, the Patchogue Ambulance Company responded within minutes and aided five patients at the scene for minor injuries with the help of the Medford Ambulance Company.
The driver, he said, was pulled out of the vehicle and prepped by the EMTs on scene for Medevac (helicopter) transportation from the South Ocean Avenue Middle School to Stony Brook University Hospital for serious injuries.
The man, who appeared to be in his early 30s, was alive at the scene.
The other five patients were pedestrians who moved out of the way and a worker from inside the building. They were transported to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital.
“Thank god it wasn’t a Friday or Saturday night where there could have been multiple serious injuries resulting from a vehicle going out of control in a crowded down town area,” said Rocco.
Mayor Paul Pontieri who responded to the scene agreed. “Given the time of day and given what he’s done and how close he came to hitting other cars he’s lucky this isn’t multiple deaths,” he added.
Patchogue Fire Department First Battalion Chief and member of the Hook and Ladder Company Dave Tierney said he was the first of the fire department to arrive on the scene.
The Patchogue Fire Department, he said, responded within minutes as well and the driver was already pulled out of the vehicle by a near by witness of the crash. Also a small reported fire inside the building was extinguished prior to their arrival.
“Village code enforcement, our fire police and our responders were a great help,” he said. “It was a mess for a while there with backed up traffic in either direction but it was brought under control pretty quick.”
The incident, he explained, was something he has never seen before.
“I was expecting a little fender bender when I heard a car crashed into a building … I never expected this.”
Though not necessary, in precaution the New Village apartment residents above the accident were evacuated, according to TriTec officials.
Rob Loscalzo, chief operating officer of TriTec, said, “Our primary concern is that no one was hurt. It’s miracle that there were no injuries and we hope that the driver is okay.”
Joe Alagna, owner of Arooga’s, had plans for a soft opening at that location in two to three weeks. Thankful none of his about ten workers were seriously hurt during the incident, he said now he needs to be sure the building is structurally sound and get back on the schedule for repairs.
The workers were primarily in the back on working on the bar. The vehicle went through the front of the building smashed the window and a tire flew off into a wall inside, he said.
Pamela Dickey, from Holbrook, was on the scene and told the Long Island Advance she was late to an interview at Arooga’s when the accident occurred.
“I was going to an interview and couldn’t find the restaurant because there was no sign,” she said thanking god. “All of a sudden I heard a foot on the gas and a big bang… there was glass everywhere… I can’t believe he didn’t hit anyone.”
The car remains mangled in Arooga’s.
Information about the driver is to come. According to Suffolk County Police a male driver drove into a commercial building on the northwest corner of Ocean and Main St. in Patchogue at 1 p.m. The driver was airlifted to Stony Brook for serious injuries. Fifth Squad detectives are investigating.
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