Just over a month after a car drove off the 69th Street Veterans Memorial Pier in Bay Ridge, a second vehicle has made its way onto the oft-visited neighborhood landmark – though, this time, it is unclear exactly how.
According to authorities, at around 7 a.m. Sunday morning, December 10, a 27-year-old man was driving his 2017 Nissan Sentra on Shore Road when – he told cops – his GPS told him to make a left turn. That left turn, police said, landed the driver – who was arrested on-site and has since been charged with driving while under the influence – at the foot of the pier’s famed 9/11 memorial, the base of which he crashed into.
“When officers arrived, they discovered the motorist asleep at the wheel and the motor running,” a police source told this paper, adding that the driver smelt of alcohol and was exhibiting “classic signs of intoxication.”
While a witness claims there were a few fisherman on the pier at the time of the crash, no one but the driver was injured. The real problem, locals contest, lies in how he ended up on the pier in the first place.
“It appears that the driver accessed the pier by driving between the bollards on the left side of the pier,” said Ridgeite Robin Shaud, who stumbled across the grisly scene Sunday morning and promptly alerted this paper. “Since the first incident, there have been temporary metal barriers blocking access to the pier but they had been moved aside.”
That first incident occurred in the early hours of Monday, November 6, when another vehicle was able to access the pier – which is open only to pedestrians, cyclists and the occasional emergency vehicle – thanks to a missing bollard (or, protective barrier) that, Shaud claims, was knocked down late last year and never repaired or replaced.
That time, by Tuesday, November 7, both the bollard and the protective fencing around the pier had been replaced, according to Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann who was shocked by this Sunday’s events.
“My understanding was that they’d been replaced, so this is very troubling,” Beckmann told this paper. “It’s unsettling to think that a car or any other vehicle can gain access to the pier like that.”
It is unclear at this time whether the driver accessed the pier by skirting temporary metal barriers or the Parks Department’s mandated protective bollards. Either way, Beckmann contended, something needs to be done.
“There need to be bollards at the pier,” she said, “obviously ones that are accommodating to emergency vehicles, but there need to be bollards that are going to work. There should not be an opportunity for a car just to access the pier – which is one of the largest recreation centers in our neighborhood – so easily.”
In fact, following the car’s incursion onto the pier, the city’s Parks Department replaced and strengthened the bollards blocking access, according to agency Spokesperson Maeri Ferguson. “All the bollards were in place over the weekend (they are bolted into the ground),” she told this paper, adding, “Just this morning we further secured the pier by widening the smaller replacement bollard with wings on either side, making the space between narrow enough to deter vehicle access.”
That is critical. The pier, Beckmann noted, sees crowds of people – young and old – similar to those found along the Shore Road Promenade, which Community Board 11 recently pushed to protect better by adding bollards adjacent to the Belt Parkway.
“Given the horrific terrorist attacks that have happened recently, we’re all a little more aware when it comes to sights like this one,” Beckmann stressed.