Lisa: You really nailed it down, with your comment, as there appears to be more to this story. This follow-up article, entitled "Satan's Hand or a Miracle" really sums up the aftermath. The rest of the story...
Here is the link from The Jersey Journal:
Here is the text of the article:
'SATAN'S' HAND OR A MIRACLE?
Fear mixed with relief after car plows into Jehovah's Witnesses crowd
Monday, April 21, 2003
By Craig Garretson
Journal staff writer
One day after a car plowed into a crowd of people outside the former Stanley Theater in Jersey City, the hall was once again filled with thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses attending the conclusion of a two-day regional gathering.
During an 80-minute lunch break yesterday, parishioners congregated on the same Kennedy Boulevard sidewalk to talk about Saturday's accident where 13 people were injured. But conversation was suddenly interrupted when an ambulance pulled up to the theater's entrance.
Word spread quickly through the crowd that an elderly Witness was bleeding from the ears after falling inside the theater.
"Satan is really hitting us hard this weekend," one parishioner muttered as the woman was loaded into the ambulance.
Others preferred to say it was "a miracle" that even more people weren't injured, and no one killed, when 78-year-old Henry Clax's 1992 Buick Regal jumped the curb and swerved through the crowd outside the Jehovah's Witness Hall minutes after the conclusion of Saturday's program of study, prayer and song.
"Yes, that's the word I would use. It was a miracle," said Jersey City resident Francisco Ramos, who attended both days of the conference.
According to witnesses, the four-door sedan jumped the curb into the crowd, knocking over several light poles before swerving back onto the boulevard and over a low concrete median, crossing several lanes of southbound traffic. The car then smashed into a tree.
"It was just a fluke that it happened when it happened. A few minutes later and the sidewalk is packed, the crosswalks are packed. I don't doubt at all that people would have been killed."
Jehovah's Witnesses did not observe Easter yesterday, but more than 2,600 people - most from New Jersey, Staten Island and the Bronx, others from other states and some from foreign countries - were at the theater Saturday and again yesterday for the two-day annual Circuit Assembly, said Luke Allain, manager of the 1928 theater that was bought by the congregation 20 years ago and fully restored.
"When you think about how many people were here, we are thankful it wasn't more tragic," Allain said. "Five minutes later, and there would have been hundreds of people on the sidewalk instead of the 50 or so who were out there. But we are praying for our brothers and sisters who were hurt yesterday to have a speedy recovery and be back with us soon."
Because the two-day event follows the same program as other assemblies being given across the country, there weren't any homilies about the accident delivered yesterday, Allain said.
"We made a special announcement and we did pray for those brothers and sisters, but we have a strictly defined program that we adhere to," he said. "We didn't ignore what happened, but we didn't make it a major focal point of today's program."
Police Sgt. Edgar Martinez said police and firefighters arriving on the scene Saturday were prepared for a greater tragedy.
"As we were walking across the median to the accident scene, we just looked at each other and said, 'Can you imagine what would have happened if traffic had been heavy?' You've got to wonder how many more people would have been hurt if there were other drivers careening all over the place to try to avoid him. This was bad, but it could have been much, much worse than what it was."
Clax, who suffered a fractured hip in the accident, was in stable condition yesterday at the Jersey City Medical Center, said his son, William Clax.
"We're all praying and hoping and waiting," he said. "Everyone is feeling very sad about the accident and the people who were hurt."
The most serious injury was to an 83-year-old woman, whose leg was badly crushed, Martinez said. The woman was in "very critical condition" at Jersey City Medical Center yesterday and her leg may have to be amputated, he said.
Also injured was a 24-year-old woman who is six months pregnant, and five children - a 14-year-old boy, a 12-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother, an 18-month-old and a 12-month-old. Most of the other injuries appeared to be cuts and bruises, Martinez said. Allain said several people who escaped serious injury Saturday were back at the assembly yesterday.
A parishioner who said she witnessed the accident said Clax appeared to be sleeping while parked in front of the theater waiting to pick up his wife, Odel, who was attending services inside.
The woman, who didn't want to give her name, said Clax was apparently startled when someone - "not a police officer" - told him to move his car.
"He must have thought he had it in drive but he had it in reverse so when he gave it the gas he hit a little white car that was parked behind him," she said. "He hit it so hard that he went over the hood. He drove right up the hood and hit the windshield."
Other witnesses said Clax then tried to drive off the car, but again accelerated so quickly that he jumped the curb and swerved across the crowded sidewalk, hitting pedestrians and light poles.
Kyler Close, 20, of Jersey City, said he was walking through Journal Square when he heard "a big, loud screeching noise."
Close said he saw Clax back into the car at the corner of Kennedy and Pavonia and then "rev up again" and accelerate onto the sidewalk. "And then it got nasty from there. People were flying everywhere," he said.
Another witness, Cliff Booker of Jersey City, was leaving the theater after attending the service inside.
"The car careened onto the sidewalk and struck a young lady," Booker said. "Then the car started coming in my direction. It was like a scene out of a movie. People were screaming, things were chaotic."
The car, which was traveling north on Kennedy Boulevard, crossed over the median strip and hit a tree on the other side of the street. Booker said he then went and helped the man out of the car.
Martinez said traffic on Kennedy Boulevard between Pavonia and Newark avenues was shut down between 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
He also praised police, firefighters, EMS responders and attendants from the theater who worked together to help the injured.
"It was a very well-coordinated, very quick response for an incident with so many injuries. Everyone was working hand-in-hand and with great cooperation," he said.
Martinez said Clax was cited for failure to control his vehicle and could face additional charges if police determine he wasn't supposed to be driving.
"We're going to interview his physician to talk about any medical conditions he may have had and we drew blood to perform a toxicology report, and from there we'll determine if there were any restrictions on him that should have prevented him from driving," Martinez said.
At a Saturday press conference, Mayor Glenn Cunningham said Clax was apparently on several medications, but didn't know which ones. He said it didn't appear that alcohol was involved.