NEW YORK — A car heading down a dark, dead-end street in a desolate industrial area flipped over a wooden curb into a creek, killing four passengers, police said Saturday.
The driver escaped serious injury and told officers at the scene in the Astoria section of Queens that the four were trapped in the submerged car.
Police said the 2009 Honda Accord tumbled into Steinway Creek, a trash-strewn inlet off the East River, just after 10:30 p.m. Friday.
Fire department divers pulled the four victims from the car. Police identified them as 21-year-old Darius Fletcher, 19-year-old Jada Monique Butts, 19-year-old Crystal Gravely and 20-year-old Jaleel Furtado. They were pronounced dead at hospitals.
Several of the victims’ family members visited the scene Saturday morning. The sobbing stepmother of one was comforted by police.
The 20-year-old driver was listed in stable condition at Elmhurst General Hospital. Police did not immediately identify him.
Police towed the car from the creek Saturday morning and placed it on the pavement, wheels up, just a few feet from the water’s edge. They then flipped it back on its wheels and drove it away on a flatbed truck.
Police divers helping with the towing operation were hosed off by firefighters when they emerged from the creek, a foul-looking inlet peppered with trash and mud.
Police visited a car service business that has security cameras trained in the direction the car would have been going in hopes of learning the vehicle’s speed in the seconds before it crashed.
The deaths shook residents of East Elmhurst, the neighborhood of brick row houses where all four victims lived.
Hairdresser Sheila Ortiz said both of the young women who died got their hair done at her salon, and she had known them since they were little girls.
“Those kids were very happy,” Ortiz said. “They were nice young kids, not troublemakers.”
The crash occurred on an isolated stretch of road near parking lots and industrial buildings, adjacent to a wastewater treatment plant and not far from the Rikers Island jail.
The Steinway piano factory that gives the creek its name is a few hundred yards from the crash site.