Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 32
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

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Iris Interiors

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Hinds Plaza Driver Remains Critical; Witness Recalls Crash

Ellen Gilbert

George S. Atkins, the 86-year old Clifton man whose Cadillac crashed into a wall at the Spring Street garage last week, remained in critical condition at press time at the Helene Fuld Medical Center in Trenton.

Brunhilde Porobija, a staff member at Mr. Atkins’s company, Charing Cross., Ltd., is serving as the company’s president in his absence. She reported that there has not been “much improvement” in his condition “so far,” and that family members are continuing to stay with him.

A Clifton-based firm, Charing Cross specializes in “leatherbound stationery and gift items.” Ms. Porobja joined the firm when it was founded in 1982. “It’s not a big company,” she noted.

Rouge retail store manager Christina Cassar, who made the 911 call that alerted police to the accident just “seconds” after the crash, vividly recounted the sequence of events in a recent interview.

“I was standing at the front of the store with a clear view out of the front door,” she said. “I heard screeching and looked up. I saw the car coming down — I thought it might come through the doors.”

The fact that the car ended up going down the narrow alley between buildings is, Ms. Cassar thinks, significant. “My impression was that, despite whatever may have happened to cause the car to go out of control, it was too random for him to navigate down that narrow path. My impression is that he either passed out or something medical happened.”

Ms. Cassar was one of the first people to speak with arriving police officers, offering to help in any possible way. Over the next hour or so, she gave water to those who asked for it, noting one particularly distraught woman whom she helped.

Together with other passersby who came into the store after the accident, Ms. Cassar “watched them take the car apart piece by piece.” She said that she was unable to determine whether Mr. Atkins was conscious when he was finally removed from the car.

In the meantime, she reported, she “actually sold two things” in the store. “I guess it was shock therapy,” she mused.

“I had nightmares the night after,” reported Ms. Cassar, who has been manager of Rouge for three of the five years she has worked there. “I was shaking.” Now, she said, she wished that “they would just clean up” the damaged brickwork.

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