The shop owners at 314 Canal St. say they feel lucky to be alive after a car smashed into their storefront Tuesday, Aug. 21. According to police and witnesses, a black Mercedes made an illegal U-turn on Canal by Mercer Street and clipped the rear of a green Subaru, which shot into another vehicle before careening onto the sidewalk and into the garage-style entrance of one of the low-cost jewelry stores.
“It was like a dream,” said Maiya Lama, one of the shop’s five co-owners. She had been rearranging items in the store when she heard a loud crash in the street, then all of a sudden a car was spitting flames and fumes inches in front of her.
Lama was trapped in the single-room store with four other workers until firemen doused the flames. The car took out cabinets, piping, lighting and the track for the slide-down door. Co-owner Jahir Rahman said he always sits by a watch display case that the car demolished, but happened to be in the bathroom during the crash. Lama added that some customers had left “just two seconds” before the accident.
The owners estimated that repairs and losses could cost them over $25,000. The store has no insurance.
A witness who rushed to the Subaru driver’s aid reported that the driver suffered a seizure and still had her foot on the gas pedal after the collision. The driver was treated at the hospital for head trauma. The Mercedes driver fled the scene out of panic, police said, but then returned and was taken into custody.
“Trapped in there, I thought I would die,” said Lama, who was also treated at a hospital for minor injuries. “Thank God. Thank God.”
She reopened the store for business the next day.
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