Four friends on their way home from a birthday celebration nearby were killed late Friday night when the car they were riding in careened through a 3-foot high chain-link fence and rolled over into a Queens creek, police officials said.
The driver, a 20-year-old man, managed to get out of the car, swim to shore and call 911, officials said.
The driver placed the call at around 10:36 p.m., and rescue workers first arrived roughly six minutes later, officials said.
He was seen at the end of the road flagging down rescue workers as they arrived, police sources said. Sixty-five firefighters responded to the scene off 19th Ave. near 37th St. in Astoria, along with divers from both the FDNY and the NYPD.
But it was too late.
Two men and two women were pulled out of the murky Steinway Creek, across from Rikers Island, after being trapped in the automobile, submerged in up to 10 feet of water, for more than a half hour.
The first body was pulled out at 11:10 p.m., the last about five or six minutes later, a law enforcement source said.
“It was one after another,” said the source.
The dead were identified by cops as Darius Fletcher, 21, Jada Monique Butts, 19, Crystal Gravely, 19, Jaleel Furtado, 20.
Rescue divers smashed the car windows to access the victims. The car was still submerged as of early Saturday morning.
“They were pulling out one person at a time and rolling them down the street to an awaiting ambulance,” said one witness. “Paramedics were sitting on top of one of them performing CPR as they were being rolled out.”
Paramedics rushed the two female passengers and one of the mne to Elmhurst Hospital, where they were pronounced dead.
The other male victim was taken to Mount Sinai Queens, where he also was pronounced dead.
A woman at Elmhurst Hospital said she was Furtado’s mother.
“He wasn’t driving, it wasn’t his car. He was with friends. They were supposed to be going to some restaurant for their friend’s birthday,” the woman said, tears streaming down her face, as she rushed into the emergency room where family members of the dead had gathered.
Moments after speaking with detectives, a family member of one of the victims screamed “my baby! my baby!” as she was propped up by another relative outside of the hospital.
There are no dead-end signs at the end of 19th Ave. that would have warned the driver, officials said.
The group was celebrating one of the female passenger’s 19th birthday nearby, law enforcement sources said. It was not immediately clear which woman’s birthday the group was celebrating.
The driver — part of his face covered by a bandage — spoke to investigators from the back of an ambulance before he was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, officials said.
He was being treated for hypothermia at Elmhurst Hospital early Saturday.
The cause of the accident was still under investigation as of Saturday morning. The driver was not drunk, police sources said, but speed was a factor.