NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — A coveted parking spot may have been behind a heated argument that led to an elderly Long Island woman getting hit by a car.
The woman was left with serious injuries after being struck by a car in a mall parking lot. Now, Suffolk County prosecutors are investigating and trying to determine whether it was an accident or a deliberate act of road rage.
“The man was very upset. He just kept throwing his hands down, hitting the car, and throwing his cap down,” Kelly Bello told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
Bello was one of dozens of mall employees who watched in disbelief as a woman lay injured in a mall parking lot following an apparent dispute over a parking space.
“People get crazy, but first of all I don’t think people should be standing there holding spots anyway, not that someone should get run over for that,” Bello said.
It happened at Walt Whitman Mall. Helen Rivera, 76, was airlifted to Nassau University Medical Center with head injuries and broken bones.
She had been standing in a handicapped space that she was saving for a driver when Robert Berger, 83, pulled in and knocked her down.
Witness said that they heard Berger yell at Rivera to get out of the way, but charges have not been filed due to conflicting reports.
The brakes and black box on Berger’s Honda SUV are being tested to determine if he deliberately hit the woman.
Flaring tempers are not unusual in crowded parking lots. Hours after Rivera was struck another confrontation took place.
“One girl was out here screaming, the other two were having a honking fight, and they all just sped off in different directions like maniacs,” one woman said.
Parking can be frustrating, but shoppers agreed that there is no excuse for violence.
“Everyone has rushed for a parking spot. It’s about consideration,” one shopper said.
Berger was questioned by Suffolk Police. On Wednesday, he was not home on the Jericho block where neighbors say he has lived for decades.
Sources said that Berger did not appear to be suffering from dementia and said, “I am so sorry.”
Rivera was listed in serious condition.
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