Several hurt when car veers onto sidewalk

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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. Details on the outcome of those cases weren't immediately available.

Martin 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 Manhattan sidewalk and killed a 4-year-old girl while fleeing police.

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