September 8, 2003

Driver Strikes Pedestrian in Collegetown

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A local male resident was struck by a car at the intersection of Oak and College Avenues in front of the Center for Theater Arts yesterday morning.

At approximately 10:30 a.m., an unidentified 74-year-old woman drove from Oak Avenue and hit Loaves and Fishes kitchen coordinator, Neil Golder, who was crossing the street, according to eyewitness reports.

After Golder was hit, he was pinned under the car and dragged thirty feet, said Linda Grace-Kobas, interim vice president for communications and media relations.

“It was a real loud bang like a crash and we heard it so that’s how we knew something happened and then a crowd formed,” said a Collegetown Bagels employee.

One eyewitness said that the dark blue sedan ended up on the sidewalk pointing in the campus’ general direction.

Melissa Chiotti, an employee of Rulloff’s, said that she was taking care of a table when she noticed there was a lot of commotion. When she saw the scene, she and others went to call 911.

“When I got [back] out there, there were a couple people around and the car was on top of the curb and the guy was underneath,” Chiotti said. “There was definitely a huge hole in his leg.” She added that the rest of the pedestrian’s body could not be seen.

Grace-Kobas said that Golder was airlifted to Guthrie Medical Center in Sayre, PA, located about 30 miles away.

The Ithaca Police Department (IPD) said that his condition is apparently not life threatening, and according to friend, Linda Holzbaur, Golder will be in a wheelchair for about a month because he cannot put any pressure on his hip or injured leg.

Grace-Kobas said the driver told officials that her car brakes failed. The driver does not have any connection to the University.

“[The driver] had a handicapped sticker on her car,” Chiotti said. “She was sitting on the bench and she was really upset.”

As of yesterday late afternoon, no charges had been made against the driver. The IPD investigation is ongoing and consequently, they declined to give the driver’s identity.

The Ithaca Fire Department (IFD) was the first to respond to the scene and immediately set the car up on blocks to get Golder out. By that time, authorities “shooed most of [the crowd] away” according to Bryan Morin, Bike Rack employee.

“I thought maybe if anything, someone might have jumped off the bridge. And then I saw the car up on the sidewalk,” he said.

Besides working with Loaves and Fishes, Holzbaur said that Golder is “a very dedicated peace activist” and is also a member of the Ithaca Catholic Worker. Golder was a former member on the city’s Common Council and originally comes from a Jewish background although he studies a variety of religions.

“He’s a really sweet guy,” Holzbaur said. “Neil is always respectful and friendly to everybody. [He] lives his faith doing what he can to work in the struggle for justice and peace.”

Linda Holzbaur is a Sun employee.

Archived article by Brian Tsao