Family and friends have paid tribute to the owner of a popular Queens Irish bar who died in a tragic car accident early Saturday morning when the livery cab taking him home was involved in a hit-and-run accident.
George Gibbons, 37, was just blocks from his Maspeth bar, Gibbons Home, when the cab he was traveling in collided with a Chrysler Sebring on a one-way Long Island Expressway service road, sending him flying into the cab-driver’s lap from the back seat.
“We are in complete shock,” his younger sister Bernadette told the Irish Voice.
Witnesses saw two men running from the scene, but one later returned with a large gash on his forehead. The driver of the vehicle remains at large. Both the cab driver and Gibbons were taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where the bar-owner was pronounced dead on arrival.
The passenger of the Sebring, Andre McKanney, 44, of Jamaica, Queens, who returned to the scene, was treated at Elmhurst Hospital. He was charged with possession of marijuana.
The driver who fled the scene of the accident has still not been found. A spokesman from the NYPD told the Irish Voice that the investigation is ongoing.
The New York Post reports that the car is registered to Brooklyn resident Angela Kosoi, who said she lent it to her friend on Friday for a job interview.
The son of Irish immigrants, Gibbons opened Gibbons Home in Maspeth in June 2010. A popular deejay, he had regularly played at weddings and communions and was well known in the Irish American community.
Bernadette, the youngest sibling of six, who works part-time in the Maspeth pub, said the family is devastated by the loss of their eldest brother.
“We are waiting for him to walk in the door and tell us it was all a big joke because that’s who he was, he would make light of even the most serious situation,” she told the Irish Voice.
George had scheduled both Bernadette and their brother Eamon to work in Gibbons Home last Friday night.
“Usually I would work Friday nights on my own. It was almost as if it was meant to be,” she reflected.
Their other brother Brendan, an NYPD officer, also called into the bar as it was his birthday the following day.
“It was almost as if he knew that he wanted us all together. Everyone kind of saw George on Friday and almost had their last goodbyes,” Bernadette reflected.
After the bar closed, George caught Bernadette before she left the bar and asked her if she was working on Saturday night.
“I told him I was and he said he wanted me to do a few things on Facebook for the Halloween party,” she recalled.
Bidding a final farewell, he thanked his little sister, something she says he always did at the end of a shift.
“’Alright tough guy, I will talk to you later, thank you,’ he told me,” Bernadette recalled.
A short time later George left the bar and climbed into the back of a livery cab for the short journey home to Middle Village. Moments later the fatal crash occurred.
Since the accident patrons and friends have gathered in the Maspeth bar to pay their respects to the friendly owner.
“It was his mission in creating Gibbons Home that it would be a safe haven for people to come together in good and bad times,” Bernadette said.
A wake will be held for Gibbons on Wednesday, October 19, at Hess-Miller Funeral Home from 2-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. The funeral will take place Thursday at 9:45 a.m. at Our Lady of Miraculous Medal in Ridgewood.
He is survived by his father George Senior, brothers Eamon, Brendan and sisters, Siobhan, Maureen and Bernadette.