Careening SUV rips through church fence

Crossway Christian Center pastor Mark Gregori stands next to the destroyed Lincoln Navigator near the 45th Precinct. Photos by Patrick Rocchio

An SUV careening out of control off the Bruckner Boulevard service road at Balcom Avenue smashed through a concrete-reinforced fence at the Crossway Christian Center on Saturday, August 15 – one of many such occasions, the pastor said. The Alleged drunk driver was arrested at the scene.

The late-model Lincoln Navigator went airborne and knocked down a utility pole and a police call box before smashing through the fence.

The accident occurred at 7:41 p.m. Six people in the vehicle, including four children, were taken to Jacobi Medical Center with minor injuries. Driver Christopher Luchese was arrested for DWI, reckless endangerment, and endangering the welfare of a child.

Pastor Mark Gregori of the church, located at 2730 Bruckner Boulevard, said had the accident occurred the night before when the church held a youth rally, there could have been a terrible tragedy.

“We held a rally on Friday night, with youth from seven different community churches, to keep kids off the streets and off drugs,” Gregori said. “If this had happened on Friday night instead of Saturday, we could have had many more injuries. It was a real miracle that it did not happen then.”

Gregori said that since becoming pastor of the church in 1977, there have been at least 10 similar accidents, including a delivery truck that stopped just feet from his office.

Gregori reached out to the NYC Department of Transportation for the installation of safety measures. A 12-week traffic study was conducted about three-years ago. It concluded that speed humps could not be placed on Bruckner Boulevard approaching Balcom Avenue because it is a bus route.

The study left the door open for more signage as cars come around a turn are often observed at speeds approaching 80 miles-per-hour. One sign nearby posts the speed limit as 30 miles per hour.

“DOT is working with the local precinct to address concerns about speeding through this area,” said DOT spokesman Montgomery Dean.

“If they could make the speed limit more pronounced through additional signage, this corner would be safer,” Gregori stated.

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