Car Crashes Hanukkah Celebration, Injures 14

Young children among the injured

A car plowed into a building where Orthodox Jewish families were celebrating Hanukkah Thursday, injuring 14 people, police said.

At least six of the injured were young children, hospital officials said.

The Long Island families who belong to the Chabad Orthodox Jewish movement were celebrating Chanukah Wonderland, an all-day celebration with events geared for children, including a crafts corner and a Hanukkah theater. Thursday is the fifth day of the eight-day Jewish festival of lights.

About 150 people were inside the building when a 78-year-old man lost control of his car and broke through a plate glass window at about 2:45 p.m., police said.

"He makes an abrupt left turn. It actually forces the car that's parked along the side of the road up on to the sidewalk," Nassau County police Lt. Kevin Smith said at the scene. "His car careens through several plate glass windows, enters the building and comes to rest after basically running over ... several people."

Police said the injured ranged in from 1½ to 40, and four were hospitalizedin serious condition. They included two girls, ages 8 and 4, in stable condition at Nassau University Medical Center, physician Justin Greene said. One suffered a broken collarbone, he said.

Three children under the age of 5 were hospitalized at Winthrop University Hospital, two in serious condition, said vice president John Broder.

No charges had been filed against the driver Thursday evening, police said.

The Chanukah Wonderland event was sponsored by Chabad of the Five Towns, representing the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community on Long Island, and held in Woodmere, about 25 miles southeast of Manhattan. The community's Web site said the event would feature a Hanukkah theater and the building of menorahs and four-sided tops called dreidls out of Lego toys.

"We are doing whatever we possibly can for the families of these children during this most difficult of times and urge all people of good will to keep them in their prayers," Rabbi Zalman Wolowik, director of the Chabad of the Five Towns, said in a statement posted on the Web site.

Hanukkah commemorates the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greek empire in 165 B.C. Led by the Maccabees, the Jews drove the Greeks from Jerusalem and reclaimed the temple for religious services.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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