A horrifying accident involving the 49th Precinct’s community affairs officer and a rental car two weeks ago left police officer Victor DiPierro with only minor scrapes, and a new lease on life.
At about 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 14, officer DiPierro answered a ‘10-13’ call for all officers to respond to a pursuit in progress.
DiPierro, in his plainclothes, jumped on a three-wheeled police scooter and took off. He only made it about three blocks from the police headquarters at 2121 Eastchester Road before an Enterprise rental car attempted to make a left turn from the right-hand lane.
The car, travelling 30 mph, hit the scooter, breaking its windshield and sending it flying out of control.
“I was ejected form the scooter. I went airborne,” DiPierro recalled on Thursday, July 22, only days after returning to duty. “Based on what I went through and how the whole thing played out, I consider myself so lucky. There was an angel riding with me that day.”
According to DiPierro, after going airborne, he hit the roadway and began sliding into oncoming traffic.
“I slid on my back for like 20 feet, and two cars swerved around me,” he said. “And as I’m sliding alongside the scooter, I’m looking on my left thinking the scooter is going to run me over, but it goes parallel to me and hits a parked car. Then I slid past it, and hit the sidewalk and just jumped up. I couldn’t believe I was able to jump up.”
DiPierro walked away from the accident with only a bad bruise on his knee from hitting the dashboard and some cuts to his arm from the shattered windshield. He was not wearing a helmet. It is not required when operating a three-wheeled vehicle.
DiPierro said it is a miracle he did not hit his head during the crash.
Police officers rushed to the scene, and ambulances and emergency medical teams responded as well. He arrived at Jacobi Medical center at about 2:45 p.m. and was home after a couple of hours.
“I’m grateful to the 49th and the EMTs and everybody who couldn’t do enough to ensure that I was going to be okay,” he said. “Going home that day had a lot more meaning than any other day. If I was a cat, I would have used up three out of the nine lives, I think.”
According to DiPierro, officers at the scene thought he would be dead when they saw him fly out of the scooter.
“They couldn’t believe their eyes,” he said. “They told me afterwards it was like watching a James Bond stunt in real life.”
But the accident wasn’t the first at the 49th Precinct that day. At about 7:30 a.m. a police car was hit on Tomlinson and Lydig avenues by a delivery cab that shot through a stop-sign.
The cabby was charged, and all the officers came away without serious injury.
“That was one day where the 49th didn’t stop,” said 49th Precinct Captain Kevin Nicholson, adding that car accidents in the precinct are rare.
“Of course there’s been accidents before, but something as serious as that, it doesn’t happen often. It hasn’t happened since I’ve been here.”
For DiPierro, he doesn’t expect there to be a next time, at least not for him.
“I think I’ll be a lot more cautious getting back on one of those things,” he said. “Coming home that day gave life a whole new perspective. All of a sudden the heat and the humidity didn’t mean much anymore, because just being able to walk was incredible.”
Reach reporter Max Mitchell at (718) 742-3394 or firstname.lastname@example.org