Brooklyn Heights

‘Worst nightmare’ scenario in Heights as drunk driver speeds on Promenade

December 6, 2020 Editorial Staff
A panel recommended that the Brooklyn Heights Promenade not be replaced with a BQE bypass. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle
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A speeding drunk driver on the historic Brooklyn Heights Promenade last week drove his vehicle recklessly along a walkway that is usually packed with both kinds of strollers — people out walking, and baby carriages.

“It was a miracle that no one was killed,” said one eyewitness who watched from his apartment window. “People use the Promenade at all hours and in all weather.

“Except for the recent threat of Promenade demolition,” he added, “this could be called a Heights resident’s worst nightmare.”

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The driver, 33-year-old Eric James, was apprehended and arrested by police. James was charged with drunk driving, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, aggravated DWI (driving while intoxicated), and driving with an open container of alcohol.

First posted on Reddit, a video of the speeding car was taken by a pedestrian near the Clark Street entrance to the Promenade. The video shows James speeding off as if in a drag race, headed south on the Promenade.

Some guy was going 40 down the promenade (a fairly populated pedestrian walkway in NYC) from r/PublicFreakout

One of the 911 callers who reported the incident, according to a report in Gothamist/WNYC, said James smacked the phone from his hand as he called in the incident, then sped off. The phone reportedly skittered across the Promenade and fell to the BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway) below the Promenade.

A Heights resident who had briefly viewed the passing car from his window said bollards or barriers to cars and trucks should be installed at every entrance to the Promenade.

“Maybe the Montague entrance could remain open for police cars or emergency vehicles,” he added, “but every other access needs to block the chance of something like this ever happening again.” The resident asked not to be identified.

The Promenade, which is part of New York City’s first historic district in Brooklyn Heights, enhances for pedestrians a prehistoric city asset, a promontory formed by the ice age. Built for foot traffic, the Promenade was recently linked to a failed project of demolition and reconstruction of the BQE below. It would have been a multi-year, multi-billion dollar project, none of which would have brought a long-term solution to overweight truck traffic that had for decades weakened the cantilevered structure below.


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