Six people – including three children – were injured Friday morning when a taxi driver apparently ran a red light, struck another car and then crashed into the Heritage Centers building on Oak Street, police said.
None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening, police said.
But it could have been worse. The office of Executive Director Michael Gross was struck by the taxi and sprayed with shattered glass, but fortunately he was not in.
Gross got his first inkling that something had happened at 9:30 a.m., when he received a message from a co-worker at the agency at Oak and Clinton streets.
“She said, ‘You need to go to temple tonight and thank your God,’ ” Gross recalled. “I had no idea what she was talking about.”
When Gross called the office, he learned that a Broadway Taxi had smashed into the corner of the agency’s building where his office is located.
The taxi sheared off a 4-inch-thick cement and steel post and smashed his office window.
“My desk chair is right against the window,” Gross said.
Only the exterior cement wall of the long, low building stopped the taxi from plowing right into the office. Gross said.
“While the car would not have hit me, I would have been in bad shape from all the flying glass, because glass did fly across the entire room,” he said.
Witnesses told police that the driver of the Broadway Taxi was traveling south on Oak Street when he ran a red light and struck a 1999 Oldsmobile that was headed east on Clinton with a green light. The taxi then jumped the curb, mowed down a shrub and the post and smashed into the window of Gross’s office.
The taxi driver, whom police did not identify, was treated and released at Erie County Medical Center and then issued a summons for failing stop at a red light.
Five others, including three young children, were taken to Women & Children’s Hospital.
The post that was destroyed “was put in a couple of years ago when the building was hit closer to the corner,” said Gross, who added that it was at least the third time the building has been struck by a vehicle since it was built about 30 years ago.
“This is a bad intersection,” Gross said. “People try to run lights all the time.”
Gross said he is concerned that traffic will get worse when Catholic Health headquarters opens between Elm and Oak near Genesee Street next summer and there are “many, many, many more cars traveling down Oak Street and up Elm. Someone with some traffic sense is really going to have to put a plan together that is going to keep pedestrians, cars and buildings safe.”
On April 8, Marc Weinfeld, a beloved downtown character, was struck by a car on Oak just south of Clinton, just yards from the scene of Friday’s crash. He died nine days later. No charges were filed in that incident.