2011-05-18 / Front Page

Third VW Accident At QB Bridge Exit Ramp

BY LIZ GOFF

The Queensboro Bridge exit ramp that claimed two lives in the last two months last weekend was the scene of a third crash that left two men injured.
The driver was speeding and lost control of his Vokswagen at an exit turn on the lower level off-ramp of the Queensboro Bridge at Bridge Plaza South near Crescent Street at about 5:30 a.m., Saturday morning, May 14, sending the car airborne onto the roof of a livery cab parked nearby, police said.
Driver, Kristy Miles, 33, managed to jump from the cab just seconds before the impact, police said.
The crash occurred at the exact location of two other crashes involving Volkswagens one fatal and the other near fatal. Police sources said the driver in Saturday’s crash, Gurcharen Saini, 19, of Bellerose, and his passenger Mohammed Imran, 20, were heading home in the 2007 Volkswagen G77 Rabbit Hatchback after a night of partying when Saini hit the gas as he approached the exit.
Cops said the Volkswagen was traveling at excessive speed when it turned onto the exit, causing Saini to lose control of the vehicle.
A jersey barrier installed by city Department of Transportation (DOT) workers stopped the car from careening into a row of storefronts adjacent to the exit, police said. The barrier was put in place outside the stores after the two prior crashes caused major damage to the businesses.
Eyewitnesses were shocked by the sight of the two men who crawling from the wreckage moments after the crash. “They were covered with blood,” coffee cart vendor Dolores Goerra said. Goerra, 48, said she witnessed all three crashes. “I really didn’t think anyone would come out of this without bad injuries.”
Saini, a 2010 New Hyde Park Memorial H.S. graduate, was taken to New York Hospital with minor injuries. Imran was treated at the scene and Myles escaped uninjured, police said.
Local lawmakers, including state Senator Michael Gianaris, gathered at the site following the second crash on April 6, where they called for a comprehensive study to review safety of bridge exit ramps.
“Obviously, whatever safety measures the Department of Transportation has taken failed to improve safety at this location,” Gianaris said this week. The Astoria lawmaker again called on DOT officials to investigate the reasons for all the accidents at this off ramp.
Gianaris said barriers from ongoing road construction near the ramp are forcing traffic from the bridge’s inner-ramp to merge with outer-ramp traffic thus funneling into non-bridge traffic at Bridge Plaza South. The construction is part of a $44 million redesign project underway at Queens Plaza.
DOT officials said, following the April 6 crash, workers installed “gripper strips” along the exit ramp and new signs reminding motorists of the 30 mph speed limit on the bridge, and the 20 mph speed limit on the exit ramps.
Each of these accidents involved vehicles that were traveling at very high speeds. The exit ramp involved in these crashes has not undergone any changes since 2007.
Police said the drivers in all three accidents struck the bridge guardrail and lost control of their vehicles 50 to 100 feet from the street. Excessive speed played a large part in all three crashes.
The DOT spokesperson said the agency would look into safety measures installed at the exit ramp to determine if further safety measures are needed at the site.

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