ASTORIA, Queens — Shattered partitions and leveled furniture are all that remain outside Rosatoro Restaurant in Astoria.
Just 24 hours earlier, police say a 60-year-old driver attempting to bypass a slow-moving car barreled into two parked cars and a moped along 35th Street before crashing into the outdoor dining structure.
The food delivery worker on that moped, 37-year-old Xing Lin, was killed. It marks the first fatality involving outdoor spaces in New York.
“He was underneath the car but he was stuck and we couldn’t get him, there was no way to get him out,” said witness Catherine Fuchs.
The tragedy was preventable, say residents, in a neighborhood where unfortunately speeding and outdoor dining are both a way of life.
“It’d just terrible, people lose their lives trying to have a meal,” said resident Joe Caracciolo.
The fatal crash happens just as the New York City Council approved a bill to make the Open Streets program permanent.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who passed along condolences to the victim’s family, tweeted there is zero tolerance for reckless driving. But advocates say the Mayor’s inaction to implement permanent infrastructure that protects pedestrians should be in the spotlight.
“He needs to put some stakes in the ground literally to make safer spaces for people to be dining out outside,” said Cory Epstein of Transportation Alternatives. “We’ve called this for 12 months now, we’ve called for more permanent solutions.”
Meanwhile, back at Rosatoros, the struggling business which had just opened back up now forced to once again shut down as they assess the damage.
“The hospitality industry in general has taken a few hits but this one definitely hurts our team a little bit more,” said Beverage Director Phil Collins.