Crash starts New Year with a bang in Bay Ridge

January 2, 2013 Editorial Staff
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The New Year, 2013, started dangerously in Bay Ridge after two people were arrested for allegedly causing a serious accident on 93rd Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues, in the early morning hours of January 1.

The 34-year-old driver of the vehicle, identified by the NYPD as Charles Amado, of Staten Island, was arrested and charged with four counts of aggravated assault, driving under the influence and reckless driving after he allegedly slammed his car into four pedestrians and several parked vehicles, according to police reports. All of the victims were taken to Lutheran Medical Center, and one of the victims was hospitalized in serious condition, according to a police source.

Witnesses say the driver had previously had a verbal dispute inside 93 Lounge, a neighborhood watering hole located on the block where the crash occurred.

Among the comments posted on this newspaper’s Facebook page, which first reported the incident, was one from a reader who contended, “This was not an accident. It was somebody going after people. He repeatedly hit one girl. He kept going back and forth. My friend witnessed it from her living room window.”

Also arrested according to the NYPD was a 29-year-old female, Andrea Jobity, who lives at the same address as Amado, and who was charged with DWI, along with aggravated unlicensed operation.

Witnesses report that after the vehicle had hit the pedestrians and four or more cars, the male driver allegedly switched seats with the female passenger who reportedly put the car into reverse, reportedly plowing into more vehicles. Eight cars were reported by cops to have been damaged in the incident.

Residents placed the blame squarely on 93 Lounge, which they say has been a problem location in the neighborhood for a while.

“It’s a bad place,” contended David Rosenberg, who lives down the block. “Drugs, prostitution fights and now this. They (the owners) have rights, but something needs to be done.”

Another area resident, who declined to give his name, concurred. “Who needs this? It hurts the area. And it definitely hurts property owners. It makes the area worse,” he said. “I don’t know what needs to be done. After this, something though.”

Josephine Beckmann, the district manager of Community Board 10, said that the board had gotten numerous complaints about the club since it opened about two years ago. “The biggest complaint really has been disorderly groups outside the establishment,” she noted. Noise has been another issue that residents have complained about at the club, said Beckmann, explaining that the club uses promoters and has “large promoted events” that are conducive to the sort of problems residents have complained about.

Joan Curran is one of the residents who has gone to CB 10 for help. Among the issues she reported is patrons “leaving booze bottles, garbage right on the street.” In addition, said Curran, the club is open till 5 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. “Even after, they’re still making noise in the streets,” she stressed, adding, “It’s not a nice group; they are not good clientele.”

The location, Beckmann added, had been a problem in earlier incarnations – the Roxbury Lounge and the Parakeet Club. This is one of the factors that led CB 10’s Police and Public Safety Committee to recommend in February, 2010, that the 93 Lounge not be given a liquor license. The State Liquor Authority issued the license nonetheless.

93 Lounge can look forward to close scrutiny from officials going forward. “This is not how I wanted to kick off a new year in my district,” remarked City Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who added, “Be that as it may, 93 Lounge now has my undivided attention and I plan to coordinate a multi-agency response team to ameliorate this scourge on Bay Ridge. Enough is enough!”

One challenge could be getting the SLA to consider incidents that occur outside the club when deciding whether to revoke the club’s license, noted Beckmann, who said that both board members and residents “know” that the disorderly behavior and noise “should be attributed to the establishment.” Nonetheless, she added, the way the police are required to report incidents may not make the connection sufficiently clear.

The owners of 93 Lounge – Gail and Ronald Coury — did not respond to requests for comment. They did however send a letter to CB 10 last year asking the board “to cease and desist any negative comments to the press,” according to Beckmann, who said that while the Courys had been invited to attend board meetings to discuss the problems, they had appeared only once. “They said they were going to come back with further information but they didn’t,” she added.

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