Moments before a driver had fatally struck a Queens delivery person on a scooter before slamming into an outdoor dining set up belonging to the Rosatoro Restaurant in Astoria, Yekaterina Tsvetkova was about to toast to a nice Thursday evening inside the eatery next to the exterior booths.
As she, her boyfriend, and a friend were about to raise glasses, the driver of a 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-300 slammed into Xing Long Lin, 37, on his scooter and then plowed into the restaurant’s outdoor dining area, leaving behind a trail of carnage. Lin, an Elmhurst resident, was in the middle of a work shift delivering food for a nearby sushi restaurant.
“I think we were just about to cheers and heard this extremely loud noise, lots of glass went flying, everything, along with pieces of metal, a metal bicycle pole for parking, plywood,” Tsvetkova remembered. “I was sitting in a corner and remember not being able to get away or hide from the elements. At that moment I couldn’t believe that this was happening. This is it, this is how my life ends, it’s over. The whole thing looked absolutely horrific, like something you see in action movies where cars flip and crash into things.”
A day after Lin died, a GoFundMe page set up for his survivors has raised more than $80,000. The fundraiser, which originally sought to raise $10,000, had been set up by Assemblymember Zohran Kwame Mamdani, who represents Astoria.
“They told us they’ve been overwhelmed by the support they’ve received and are incredibly grateful to everyone who has chipped in to help them out,” Mamdani wrote.
Mamdani posted his account of the incident, writing that that the Mercedes driver allegedly attempted to bypass another driver by going into the bike lane on 35th Street and hitting Lin. His body and scooter were dragged under the car, according to Mamdani.
Police said the 61-year-old driver, whose identity has not been disclosed, was driving at a high rate of speed when she clipped Lin. Police added that the driver then struck two other cars before plowing straight into the Rosatoro Restaurant’s outside setup at the corner of Ditmars Boulevard and 35th Street. Debris from the crash also injured a diner who was inside the restaurant.
UPDATE: Thanks to the generosity and solidarity of our neighbors, we have quickly reached our initial 10k goal.
We’ve spoken to Xing’s family and are increasing the GoFundMe goal to 20k.
They are incredibly grateful for the support. Thank you all. https://t.co/IfDMMj8qNd
— Zohran Kwame Mamdani (@ZohranKMamdani) April 30, 2021
Lin was rushed to NYC Health & Hospitals/Elmhurst and pronounced dead from his injuries. The driver has not been charged.
Lin, a married father of a five-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son, had arrived to the United States from China 14 years ago to “provide for his family,” according to Mamdani.
The incident raised concerns over traffic safety in Astoria, where some of the neighborhoods are part of the city’s Open Streets program.
“Paint will not save people, proper protection will,” Mamdani said. “Additionally, Open Streets that host outdoor dining should be closed to car traffic to eliminate the risk of a diner being injured or killed in a traffic crash. Without these changes, more will die.”
Mamdani added that it’s workers like Lin who will be “most exposed to the risks and most impacted when they inevitably come to a head.”