Man Struck In Accident Talks Exclusively To CBS2's Jessica Schneider

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Five people were injured, one seriously, when a vehicle slammed into a Pathmark store in Flushing, Queens.

The accident happened at 6:07 p.m. at the Pathmark at 31-06 Farrington St. in Queens, officials told CBS2. The white sport-utility vehicle involved in the accident slammed through the front of the building and barreled through the produce section, CBS2’s Jessica Schneider reported.

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Officials told WCBS 880 the driver involved was a 72-year-old woman.

A photo from the NYPD 109th Precinct showed the vehicle in the middle of the store, with white bricks mangled shopping carts and other items strewn on the ground. The vehicle’s hood was also mangled and wrecked.

CBS2’s Jessica Schneider talked exclusively with Ray Hernandez, who was in the checkout line at the time of the accident, and suffered injuries.

“I’m just all bruised up and, you know, that’s it, and all bloodied up, and my leg, and bleeding,” Hernandez said. “But I’m OK, thank god.”

Hernandez did not even know it was a vehicle at first.

“Boom – I was thrown against the frozen foods. I saw the ceiling coming down, and the floor just, you know, exploding, and that’s how it went down,” he said.

Hernandez said he heard the sound of the SUV crashing through the glass at the front of the store, and got caught up in the chaos. He had blood on his shirt from a cashier who he said took a serious hit to his head.

When the scene calmed down, Hernandez had only one thought.

“I knew that I was alive,” he said. “Just in that one second I said, ‘I’m alive, I’m alive.’”

Hernandez came back Tuesday night to pick up his car from the parking lot, and plenty of people were counting their blessings after quite a scare.

Derica Dower saw the SUV zip by her in the parking lot.

“Very close — I jumped out the way,” she said. “She came down the aisle and she went straight through, and I just jumped out the way.”

Dower said the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed.

“She just came straight at the building,” she said. “And I jumped out the way, and she went straight in the building – 50 miles per hour, straight.”

It was also a close call for Derek Adoward in the parking lot.

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“I saw someone coming really fast at me, and I jumped out of the way, and she just went straight through full throttle,” he said.

Mike Graneri was driving out of the parking lot and stopped to make a turn, when the out-of-control SUV missed his vehicle by about a foot before slamming into the store.

“It was very loud,” he said. “I mean, to go through that brick wall like that, and the glass – wow, it’s scary.”

Alberta Graziosa was inside the store, just feet from the out-of-control car.

“It sounded like a bomb; you know, like an explosion,” she said. “I just never heard anything like it, then all the sudden you saw the ceiling coming in.”

Graziosa clutched the woman standing next to her when she heard the thunderous crash.

“People were screaming and going crazy, because then one guy that was doing some kind of work there was like: ‘Everybody out! Everybody out!’ which made it seem like he thought the rest of the ceiling was going to go,” she said. “So people were panicking; they were almost trampling on each other trying to find the emergency exit.”

Most rushed out, but five people were taken to area hospitals when the FDNY rushed in – along with emergency crews.

One person was initially reported in critical condition, and the others in serious condition. But officials at the scene later said the most severely injured victim — a cashier — was in serious condition.

Three of the injured victims were taken to New York Hospital Queens, and two more to Elmhurst Hospital Center, officials told 1010 WINS.

Fernando Herrera decided to answer an email before walking into the store – a decision that may have spared him. He took video at the scene as he rushed in to help.

“I ran in, there was glass all over the place, and I kind of looked for someone to help out – and that was the one guy over there,” Herrera said.

Police hooked chains to the white Mercedes SUV and dragged it back through the blown window, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported.

Officials have not charged the woman behind the wheel, or said whether she will be criminally charged. Law enforcement sources said the crash looked accidental, and it is possible that the woman who was driving hit the wrong pedal, Silverman reported.

The Department of Buildings was called to the scene and issued a full vacate order, but the building was not left in danger of collapse, officials said.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene was dispatched to inspect the food, police said.

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Officials also shut off gas to the building.