NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Police are looking at speed and rain as possible factors in the deadly crash of a car into a Queens creek that left four young people dead.
Investigators were still trying to determine the cause of Friday’s accident, which sent a car with five people inside tumbling into Steinway Creek in Astoria.
Police said the driver had tried to make a quick U-turn as he suddenly faced the dead end late Friday evening, amid rain and fog. Instead, the 2009 Honda Accord slipped on the wet road and he lost control of the vehicle that flipped into the water, police said.
The driver, Andrew Gramm, 20, was the only one to escape the submerged car, and called 911. It was too late.
His four friends were trapped at the bottom of the trash- and waste-strewn inlet off the East River.
Gramm’s injuries were serious but not life-threatening, CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported.
On Saturday, police visited a car service business that had security cameras facing the street in hopes of learning the speed of the Accord in the seconds before it crashed.
Police said Gramm did not have alcohol in his system at the time of the accident.
The car was flipped on its roof. The roof was at the bottom of the creek, and the car was about 8 feet underwater.
Rescuers made it on scene within minutes. Divers repeatedly swam to the submerged car, scrambling to pull out the two young women and two young men trapped.
The victims were identified as Darius Fletcher, 21; Jada Monique-Butts, 19; Crystal Gravely, 19; and Jaleel Furtado, 20, 1010 WINS reported.
They all lived in two square blocks of Queens’ East Elmhurst neighborhood and had gone out to celebrate Gravely’s 20th birthday, which was on Saturday, according to friends and neighbors.
The enormity of the loss hit youngsters in the group’s Elmhurst neighborhood hard, especially Gramm the only survivor of the crash.
“The weight might be a little heavy but other than that he’s alright,” Gramm’s grandfather Gus Stuckey said.
On Sunday, relatives and friends gathered to support Gramm and the loved ones of those who died.
“He’s a great kid, a great kid,” a family friend said.
The crash did not appear to have been intentional and no criminal charges were expected, CBS 2 reported, but Gramm’s family remains concerned.
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