The NYPD is investigating a fiery crash near Prospect Park in the early hours of Sunday morning after an unidentified driver careened into a public plaza, mowing down a stone war memorial and wrecking several wooden benches.
The collision between Park Slope and Windsor Terrace involved the driver of a white BMW, who slammed into Bartel-Pritchard Square at the corner of Prospect Park West and Prospect Park Southwest shortly after 4 a.m., police said.
A 23-year-old female passenger was taken to the hospital in stable condition. The driver refused medical attention and declined to cooperate, according to an NYPD spokesperson, who could not immediately say if the driver was interviewed by police.
Kautilya Pandya, a 36-year-old pharmacist whose apartment overlooks the traffic circle, said he was woken up by a "loud thudding noise" when the driver struck the memorial.
"It was like an earthquake," he said. "The building literally shook."
When he looked out the window, the car was in flames and the driver was nowhere to be found, Pandya said.
The area remained cordoned off on Sunday afternoon as onlookers surveyed the damage, including a headlight that was discarded in the trash.
The monument, which reads “For Valor and Sacrifice,” was first erected in 1965 in memory of those who died in World War I. It remained toppled Sunday afternoon with visible damage to its polished granite surface.
Safe streets advocates questioned why the driver was not arrested, while warning about an apparent uptick of reckless driving on city streets. Last month was the deadliest February for traffic deaths since at least 2008, according to Transportation Alternatives.
“A maniacally reckless driver destroyed the monument at Bartel Pritchard Square this morning,” New York City Comptroller Brad Lander said in a tweet, adding that the “epidemic of reckless driving” had “only gotten worse.”
The investigation into the incident remains open, police said.