NEW YORK — A car rocketing down an avenue in Manhattan's dense East Village swerved out of control, plowed down a sidewalk and smashed through a storefront flower stand Wednesday morning, injuring eight people, witnesses and officials said.
A 60-year-old grocery store worker was critically hurt in the 6:30 a.m. crash, which left half a city block in shambles.
Police arrested the driver, Shaun Martin, who they said was driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs.
Investigators were still trying to determine how fast the car was moving, but one witness who saw the wreck unfold said he saw two vehicles racing down Second Avenue at a frightening speed.
"They were swerving around cars. When the white car swerved right, it lost control," said Dr. Alvaro Alban.
The vehicle, a rented Nissan Altima, smashed through everything on the sidewalk, including a 25-foot-tall tree, a telephone booth, parked bicycles, a parking kiosk and a street sign.
"Everything that was in the way, he took it out," said bystander Rafael Fuentes.
The car crashed through the market's flower stand, overturning an outdoor refrigerator case.
Several people were hospitalized, including three workers at the grocery store. One cyclist in the city's new bike-share program was hit by a flying fire hydrant, police said.
Police said Martin, 32, of Queens, has faced charges before for drug possession and drunken driving. Detail on the outcome of those cases wasn't immediately available.
He was in custody and unavailable to comment Wednesday afternoon.
A police spokesman said investigators were looking into reports that a second car had also been speeding down the street.
The other car never stopped, Alban said.
The crash came three days after police said an inebriated driver killed a 53-year-old woman on a sidewalk in Brooklyn and 15 days after a teenager driving without a license drove onto a sidewalk and killed a 4-year-old girl while fleeing police.
Last year, 148 pedestrians were killed in New York City traffic accidents, which was close to an all-time low since the city began keeping such records in 1910. The number of pedestrian fatalities in the city has dropped 23 percent since 2001 alone. The great majority of pedestrians killed or seriously injured in accidents are hit while crossing the street, city studies have found.
Associated Press writer Tom Hays contributed to this report.