Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 31
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
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Weather Forecast


Saturday Car Crash Sends Shock Waves Through Hinds Plaza

Ellen Gilbert

Details about the identity of the driver who lost control of his Cadillac and crashed into a wall of the Spring Street Garage after crossing Hinds Plaza are slowly emerging.

Eighty-six year old George Atkins of Clifton was reported to have hit the gate of the Chambers Street parking garage as he exited it. After turning right onto Chambers Street, he ran the stop sign at the intersection of Hulfish and Witherspoon Streets and rear-ended a Toyota twice. The harrowing sequence of events ended when the car jumped the curb, plunged across the Plaza, and ran into the wall.

The reason that Mr. Atkins lost control of the car has not yet been made public. Although no charges have been filed, Borough Police are still investigating the accident; it was reportedly not alcohol-related. Mr. Atkins remained in intensive care at Helene Fuld Medical Center in Trenton at press time. A request for information on his status was denied on grounds of privacy.

The driver of the Toyota, 71-year old Township resident Arlene Hauser, declined treatment.

In addition to serving as a hub for library-goers, shoppers, and diners, as well resting, people-watching, ice-cream-eating folks just stopping by, Hinds Plaza is the setting for a weekly farmers’ market and an annual children’s book festival, among other events.

Public Library Director Leslie Burger expressed the sentiments of many when she said that “we are all extremely grateful that no one was hurt. The Plaza is quite crowded at all times of the day, and the fact that there were no fatalities or injuries is just a fortunate outcome of what could have been a tragic situation.”

“The Princeton Fire Department and the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad (PFARS) were notified of the accident shortly before 5:30 p.m.,” said PFARS President Peter Simon. Rouge manager Christina Cassar is believed to have made the 911 call.

“Rescue workers found the driver trapped inside the sedan, and used cutting tools to remove the doors and peel back the roof to get to him. It took about 40 minutes to free him,” said Mr. Simon.“This was definitely one of our more complicated extrications,”
he added, noting the “small space between the wall and the parking garage” in which they had to work.

Mr. Simon also cited the presence of Plainsboro Rescue Squad and Montgomery Emergency Services personnel, who were called in to provide support for the rescuers and any additional victims experiencing heat-related problems.

The damage to Mr. Atkins’s car was described as “significant;” the damage to the building is believed to be cosmetic, rather than structural.

In a letter to Town Topics (see Mailbox), Borough resident Fay Abelson cited the “meticulous care” shown by rescue workers during the operation.

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