By Joy Bergmann
Kind. Gentle. Smiling. Lovable. Gleeful grandfather of triplets. So helpful. A good, solid human being. Always game to chat. Always calls out ‘GRAAAAcie’ to greet my dog. He’s our guy, our Alfred.
Residents of 785 West End Avenue pour forth adjectives and love when speaking about their only doorman, Alfred Pocari, a 62-year-old Albanian immigrant who suffered severe head injuries after being struck by an SUV Friday afternoon. Family members say that his care team at Mt. Sinai – St. Luke’s Hospital is “working hard to give him a chance at life, but there is very little hope.”
Pocari was crossing West End at 98th Street a few minutes before his shift’s 4:00 p.m. start time when he and a 65-year-old woman were hit.
“I was shocked,” says one woman who’s lived in 785 WEA for more than 25 years but did not wish to be named. “I didn’t see the accident, but I heard the thud and called 911. I was hysterical.”
“The impact was horrific,” recalls Tag Gross, a 30-year building resident, who also heard the crash. “Alfred was hit dead on in the crosswalk and went flying three car lengths away. He was unconscious and not moving; the woman was bleeding profusely from the head but still conscious.”
Christine Jaworsky says she and her boyfriend are “devastated and stunned.” Jaworsky has lived in various buildings along West End for 12 years and has noticed a degradation in driver behavior. “All those cars rushing to get to the West Side Highway. Constant horn honking. It’s insane,” she says. “I’m so mad at that reckless lady. Who will pay since she doesn’t have insurance? She needs to pay the price for the tragedy she has perpetrated against Alfred and the other person who was struck and gravely injured.”
Tag Gross believes unintended consequences from the 2014 redesign of West End Avenue have made the area more precarious. “Alfred was a victim of this redesign,” he says. “People [drivers] get jammed up at 96th and once they finally get a green light, they gun it up West End.” Gross is also critical of NYPD’s 24th Precinct. “I go to the Community Council meetings to complain about the traffic and the noise and the poorly timed lights. And they don’t do anything.”
Around 12:30 p.m. Saturday, WSR spotted three NYPD patrol vehicles from the 24th near the intersection where Friday’s crash occurred. An officer confirmed they were performing a 72-hour traffic enforcement blitz in response to the crash. Gross and another area doorman, Duane, said that they had seen drivers being pulled over all morning.
Meanwhile, Pocari’s family remains by his side, hoping his strong will helps him pull through.
“He’s a tender, optimistic, happy-to-talk-to-anyone-who-would-listen kind of guy,” Sonia Dilolli, his niece, tells WSR via email. “A happy grandfather to beautiful triplet girls who are just one-year-old. They were his world.”
She has set up a GoFundMe page to assist with expenses; support is especially needed because the accused driver was uninsured, according to NYPD.
Greystone, 785 WEA’s management company, declined comment. A rep tells WSR that, “Greystone will release an official statement on Monday.”