A teenager behind the wheel of a stolen car killed one pedestrian and struck a dozen others last night in a wild, plunging dirve along a crowded 42nd Street sidewalk that left victimes strewn for 500 feet between Eighth and Seventh Avenues off Times Square.
The driver, who allegedly commandeered the car at gunpoint from a newlywed Vermont couple who were checking into a midtown hotel, knocked victims into the air, out into the street and into doorways and game-parlor storefronts as panic-stricken pedestrians screamed and dived out of the way.
As the car sheared off a fire hydrant in front of a KFC and crashed to a halt just west of Seventh Avenue, the driver, identified by the police as 19-year-old Harvey Collins of 2155 Madison Avenue, leaped out roaring with laughter, according to witnesses, who said he was set upon by an angry crowd before police wisked him away.
“People were just flying up in the air like rag dolls, with their arms and legs flopping. It looked like he was actually trying to hit people. The car was barreling along at 30 or 40 miles an hour, swerving back and forth, hitting people as it went. Some flew eigth or 10 feet in the air.”
“One person flew up and hit the marquee of a theater.”
Mrs. Raymond Collins, the suspect’s mother, said in an interview last night that her son had a long history of mental illness. “He’s sick, he’s really sick,” she said. “I hope they put him in Bellevue.” “He wanted to get off the street. He said he felt the walls coming in. He said he would like to go away for 20 years. He’s not wrapped tight. He’s losing his mind.”
70-year-old RA Whitmore, a resident of the National Hotel at Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street was killed. Four of the injured were teenage girls from Lodi NJ who had come to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.
excerpt from R. McFadden NYT 12/6/77