Driver Jailed in Peekskill Crash That Injured Three Pedestrians

Car rests on the sidewalk after driver injured three pedestrians on Restaurant Row. Photo courtesy of Peekskill Walks.

One of the pedestrians hit by a car on Restaurant Row in downtown Peekskill after it careened onto the sidewalk Nov. 18 remains in critical condition at Westchester Medical Center.

The driver of the vehicle, John Watson, 56, of Peekskill, was charged by Peekskill Police with Vehicular Assault in the Second Degree, an E felony, Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs and multiple drug possession offenses following the crash and was remanded to Westchester County Jail on Nov. 19.

According to police, Watson was operating a blue Cadillac Escalade at approximately 8:15 p.m. on the block of North Division St. on Nov. 18 when he collided with a parked, unoccupied vehicle, causing his car to veer onto the sidewalk and strike an unoccupied motorcycle and three male pedestrians.

Two of the pedestrians were treated and released at Westchester Medical Center the following day, but one is still hospitalized. Watson, who was pinned behind the wheel when police arrived at the scene, was treated for minor injuries at the hospital before he was arrested.

Police said the crash caused significant damage to city and privately owned property and buildings on the block.
State Police and the Westchester County Department of Public Safety assisted Peekskill Police at the scene. Mutual aid agencies that responded included the Peekskill Fire Department and Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Cortlandt Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Verplanck Emergency Services and Ossining Emergency Services.

Peekskill Walks, a resident-led group that strives to make Peekskill’s streets safer, more interesting and pleasant for all, said the accident was another example of changes that are needed in the city.

“This was not an isolated incident. We cannot accept drivers flipping cars, crashing into buildings and hitting pedestrians as a condition of having roads. It’s currently unsafe to walk, or to drive, in our downtown and residential areas, because of a culture of recklessness we have allowed to develop and streets that encourage speeding and dangerous driving,” the group stated.

“The time to act is now. It’s time for the city leadership to take action and make Peekskill a safe city for us all. With better street design, stronger enforcement, and driver education, we can break the culture of recklessness and reclaim our streets,” they added.

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