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Panic Ensues As Van Strikes Three Near Penn Station During Rush Hour

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Three people have been struck by a van near Penn Station in Midtown, Manhattan, the FDNY says.

The crash happened shortly before 5:30 p.m. Friday near 31st Street and Seventh Avenue. 

As CBS2's Jessica Layton reported, it was a huge scare at the height of rush hour.

"Everybody was in a panic. Like a shock, came out of the subway and into the streets, unbelievable," Greg Van Kesteren said.

VanKesteren couldn't believe what he just watched happen; three pedestrians in the crosswalk were run down by a large, maroon, commercial van.

"It was terrible," he said.

Police said two women and a man were struck by a red commercial van. They were taken to Bellevue Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Authorities said it appeared to be an accident and the driver remained on the scene. 

The 68-year-old driver stayed on the scene and told police the van's floor mat got caught on the gas pedal, causing him to accidentally accelerate.

"He then strikes three pedestrians in a crosswalk and he continues, where he comes to a stop here at 31st and Seventh Avenue," NYPD Inspector Matthew Hyland said.

He was given a sobriety test, which he passed, authorities said.

The sidewalks and crosswalks were filled with people leaving work to catch the train, including a Long Island woman -- who like some many, feared this was intentional.

"I immediately assumed it was a terrorist attack and panicked, freaked out, and asked what's going on," Kristine Risbergs said.

Witnesses praised paramedics and police for their quick response.

"They were so fast it was unbelievable," Paulin Burt said.

The victims were rushed to the hospital and are going to be okay.


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