Many City Island residents are voicing outrage over the actions of visitors waiting to leave the island after a horrific accident claimed the life of a man riding a three-wheeled motorcycle on the City Island Bridge just before midnight on Sunday, May 30. Access on and off island was shut down for several hours as the fire department worked to put out a fire caused by the accident.
Varying reports exist of what happened during the approximately four hours that emergency vehicles from off the island could not respond to 911 calls. Some people have come forward with stories of crowds looking to leave the island becoming agitated and refusing to respect the people who live in the community.
The bridge provides the only access by road to the island, which attracts thousands of people to its restaurants on summer weekends. City Island Civic Association president Bill Stanton said that after the accident on the bridge, many people who were visiting the island did not behave well during the wait.
“There were people exposing themselves, going to the bathroom in public, opening the trunks of their cars and blasting their radios at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. in the morning,” Stanton said. “City Island was literally held hostage.”
The accident claimed the life of Richard Perez, 37, whose trike crashed head on into an Isuzu SUV. The driver of the truck fled the scene on foot and is still wanted by police.
Reports of some looting at a mini-market and other tomfoolery have enraged many people who call the island community home.
Realtor Jackie Kyle Kall said that the situation illustrated why Ladder Company 53, which the community has been fighting to keep open in the wake of proposed budget cuts, is so necessary. She said that without a ladder company on the island, a fire could be devastating if access to the bridge were blocked off.
“I have called on Mayor Bloomberg, asking him what would happen in an emergency like this if we did not have our ladder company,” Kall said. “We have been fighting for the company for three years.”
Kall said that she was also concerned about ambulances getting onto the island if access at the bridge was blocked. She pointed out that there is an especially vulnerable population at Pilot Cove, a nursing home residence for seniors on Pilot Street. She was saddened by reports of bad behavior on the part of City Island visitors that night.
“There are many people who want to enjoy City Island for its beauty, and we welcome them,” Stanton said. “But they need to respect our community by not throwing garbage in the street, driving down the fire lane, or cursing at people.”
Reach reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742-3393 or firstname.lastname@example.org.