A hairstylist on a cigarette break fainted and fell into traffic outside the midtown hair salon where he works Monday morning, and was hit by a van that fled the scene, police say.
The 51-year-old hairstylist, Luis Melendez, had stepped out of the salon on West 35th Street near 7th Avenue at about 11:30 a.m., co-workers told NBC 4 New York. He was having a cigarette with a customer when he got dizzy and passed out.
A black van hit the man and took off, police said. Witnesses described a bloody scene.
"When I saw the guy on the ground, he looked like he smashed his face on the ground," said Jimmy King. "He looked like he was in bad shape. There was a lot of blood."
Melendez was taken to Bellevue Hospital in critical condition.
King said the victim apparently stumbled into the street as he fainted, and it's possible the van driver didn't realize what happened: "Maybe he doesn't even know he hit him."
Melendez's co-workers described him as bubbly and an energetic, hard worker, and say he had been working there for less than a year.
His ex-wife, who was visiting him at the hospital Monday night, told NBC 4 New York in Spanish that Melendez will have to undergo reconstructive surgery, having broken every bone in his face.
Police are looking for the driver of the van, described as a black Ford Econoline conversion van.