NBC 4 New York
Investigators are looking into what caused an SUV to veer off a residential street and into a home in Brooklyn Thursday evening, killing the 61-year-old driver. Brynn Gingras reports.
An SUV veered off a Brooklyn street Thursday evening, traveling up the steps of a home and flipping over, killing the 61-year-old driver.
Investigators are looking into what caused the driver to swerve.
Phil Mendola, who lived near the crash scene in Sea Gate, died after crashing his vehicle into a driveway between two homes on Surf Avenue between Mermaid Avenue and Beach 38th Street, police said.
His 59-year-old girlfriend was also in the car. She's in the hospital with injuries, police said.
Witnesses said the SUV was speeding down the street when it veered sharply to the left.
"All we hear were the screeching of the tires and a huge boom," said Mark Mausner. "It went up the stairs, it was in mid-air. I remember seeing it in mid-air at one point."
Richard Koonge said when the car swerved, it hit the curb on the right side of the street, then "went to the left and went straight in the air, it went totally airborne."
"It looked like a scene out of a movie, I was completely shocked."
The speed limit on Surf Avenue is 15 mph.
Mendola and his girlfriend had to be pulled from the wreckage. Mausner tried to help.
"He was hanging out of the roof of the car, the sun roof of the car, unconscious and not moving," he said. "There was a woman we couldn't see, she was inside the car. She was saying, 'oh, no.'"
A friend and neighbor of Mendola was in shock.
"I can't tell you what happened because this was a guy, really, I'd get behind the wheel with him in a blizzard," said Bonnie Tischler.
The motorcycle enthusiast "loved life," said Tischler. "This is a guy who would wake up every day and look forward to 'what should we do today?' He loved the beach."
"For this to happen four blocks from where he lives, I don't get it."