A speeding car crashed into the Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City on Sunday afternoon after a Long Island driver lost control of a stolen rental car.
The man behind the wheel of the Chevy Impala was driving down River Terrace in lower Manhattan at around 5 p.m. on Sunday, when witnesses say he drove through the stop sign at Vesey Street, jumped the curb and ploughed into the north wall of the monument.
“I was there and it was terrifying,” eyewitness, Diane Cimine posted on the Tribeca Citizen Facebook page.
“The man driving the car was psychotic, tearing down River Terrace and nearly pinning a child against the wall... amazing nothing worse happened,” Cimine, a Battery Park City resident, wrote.
After the impact, a shirtless man climbed out of the car, seemingly unhurt by the crash. Parks Enforcement Patrol officers in the area detained the suspect before police arrived on the scene.
The suspect was later identified by police as 24-year-old Antoin Odam of Long Island. He allegedly stole the car from a nearby rental lot before crashing into the popular tourist attraction overlooking the Hudson River.
Odam has since been charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, grand larceny, criminal possession of a controlled substance, operating a motor vehicle while impaired and leaving the scene of an accident, the NYPD told DNAinfo.
According to Cimine, a teenage boy who was standing close by the memorial suffered a minor injury to his leg, but declined medical attention.
The Irish monument, which opened in 2002, draws a large crowd of visitors on a daily basis to the busy area of lower Manhattan.
Matthew Monahan, a spokesman for the Battery Park City Authority said the extent of the damage is being assessed, adding that the moment remains open to visitors.
“Our interest is having it repaired as soon as possible,” said Monahan, expressing relief no one was seriously injured.
The memorial was created by artist Brian Tolle to raise public awareness of the events that led to the Great Irish Famine of 1845-1852, in which 1.5 million Irish perished. It contains a Famine-era cottage from Co. Mayo, native Irish flora and fauna, and a rock from every county in Ireland.
“The memorial is a place of solace, contemplation and calm,” Monahan told the Irish Voice. “It’s a very enlightening and educational facility.”