Heartbroken Neighbors Mourn Elderly Woman Killed in Freak Accident at Brooklyn Car Wash

What to Know

  • A car wash worker in a Jeep ran into an elderly couple's car in Brooklyn four times after emerging from the wash, hitting the couple twice
  • The 85-year-old woman died at the scene; the 90-year-old man is in critical condition at a local hospital
  • Police say the driver has not been arrested and they're still investigating; a witness said the driver appeared "panicked" after the crash

The 85-year-old woman killed in an apparent freak accident at a Brooklyn car wash Tuesday was a "wonderful" mother and grandmother, a kind woman who was very much in love with her husband, who was also hit and critically injured, according to their mourning neighbors.

Tornabene and her 90-year-old husband were in a silver Honda Accord leaving a car wash at Avenue U and Gerritsen Tuesday afternoon when a 61-year-old car wash worker in a Jeep Cherokee crashed into them, according to police. When the couple got out to inspect the damage, the driver inexplicably hit the gas pedal, running the couple over. 

Tornabene was pronounced dead at the scene. Her husband was taken to the hospital in critical condition. 

"She was a beautiful lady, and they adored each other," neighbor Barbara Gillman said of the couple, tearing up.

Gillman's daughter, Barbara Shannon, described Tornabene as "a wonderful mother, a great caretaker. She was dedicated to her husband, kind of old school. Just really, truly good people."

Despite their age, the couple was very active and very much in love, neighbors said. 

"They would go out every day, and they were always together," said John McDonnell. 

"She was religious and very caring of her husband," said Gillman. "Still very much together. And they went through all the years, and to have to go like that, it's terrible." 

The crash horrified witnesses at the car wash. Graphic surveillance video shows the Jeep hitting the couple's car four times as it accelerates and reverses, running over the woman at least twice.

"He came flying out with the SUV and literally swiped the woman and I heard everybody saying, 'Stop, stop, stop!'" said one bystander. 

Another witness told News 4 that the driver was "knocking her over, running her over, over and over, over and over, back and forth, running her over, her body being crushed to pieces underneath the car. It was horrible." 

Police said they are still interviewing the driver, who stayed at the scene. There's no apparent cause of the crash or motive, and the driver is not under arrest. One witness said he appeared "panicked" after the crash. 

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