Accident in New York shopping district kills six; driver of commercial van questioned

Friday, December 28th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ The elderly driver of a commercial van that struck and killed six people near the flagship Macy's department store was questioned by investigators, but has not been charged with a crime, police said.

At least eight other pedestrians were seriously injured Thursday when the van plowed into a crowded intersection in Herald Square.

Police said an officer had ordered the 76-year-old driver, Sidney Weinstein, to move his vehicle because it was double parked during evening rush hour on 34th Street, a midtown street filled with tourists and shoppers during the holidays. He was making a delivery at a nearby shoe store.

The van abruptly moved forward, striking several pedestrians, before it crashed into the back of a bus, police said.

Four people died at the scene, including a 15-year-old boy. Two others died in a hospital. Of nine other people taken to hospitals, at least two were in serious condition Friday morning.

Police were not releasing the identities of victims pending notification of relatives.

The van was owned by Worldwide Distribution Services, of Secaucus, N.J., police said. The company declined to comment.

A witness, M.S. Thapa, said the van hit pedestrians in the crosswalk before striking the bus, and that some people were trapped between the two vehicles.

The bus had been trying to make a right turn before the accident, Thapa said. There were no skidding sounds before the van hit the bus, just screams from people and then a crash, he said.

One of New York's prime shopping destinations, Herald Square is known by television viewers nationwide as the terminus of Macy's annual Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Landmarks such as the Empire State Building and Madison Square Garden are just blocks away.

Crowds of onlookers, many there to view Macy's holiday window displays, watched across police lines as ambulances carried away the dead and injured.

``I'm trying to get the smile back on my face and get back on my feet and then one more thing happens,'' said Carolle York, 40, of Brooklyn.