COLONIE, N.Y. -- A car crash in Colonie Friday night ended with devastation for an entire community.
“I heard a loud bang. It sounded like a car accident. I went outside and heard what sounded like an explosion,” said Andy Murphy, who lives across the street from Blessings Tavern.
Colonie police say it was around 11 p.m. when a car crashed into a truck parked next to Blessings Tavern on Watervliet-Shaker Road. The impact of the crash caused the car to go underneath the truck, and sent both vehicles through the wall of the tavern, which started a fire.
“Then a person came running from around the front of the building and he was completely engulfed in flames,” Murphy said.
The driver of the car, 18-year-old Michael Carr, is charged with vehicular assault, reckless endangerment and DWAI by drugs. Carr was taken to Albany Medical Center along with the cook, one customer and the passenger of the car, 16-year-old Niko Dinovo. He was later flown to the Westchester Burn Unit.
“It was very scary. I was kind of in shock,” said Karen Harkness, the bartender who was working Friday evening.
It was a sight those familiar with Blessings were not used to seeing.
“A lot of regulars go there. It’s an older style place. It’s been here for forever as far as I know,” said Mike Sheehan, who lives across the street from the tavern.
Those who love the longest continually operating tavern in Colonie hope to eventually see it back to the way it’s always been.
“Almost like the hub. It’s right on the corner of two big roads. The atmosphere was nice. It was almost like ‘Cheers’ from Boston,” said Sheehan.
However, in the wake of a tragedy, the community is banding together and hoping those who were injured make a full recovery.
“Definitely that domino effect of one little action just affected so many lives in an instant,” Sheehan said.
Dinovo’s family is asking for thoughts and prayers for Niko. #PrayForNiko is being used on social media to send well wishes. A GoFundMe page has also been created. If you’d like to donate, click here.