Monsey Memories: When a Car Overturned, Sending Passengers to Spring Valley General

Monsey Memories: When a Car Overturned, Sending Passengers to Spring Valley General

Yitzy Fried 

On May 24, 1962—close to 61 years ago—Michael J. McDonough was driving through the intersection of Route 45 and New Hempstead Road in Hillcrest when his car was hit from the rear causing it to overturn.

This intersection is today right outside the Village of New Square, and a few hundred feet from the famed Ateres Charna Hall, Refuah Health Center, and a number of important institutions of the Skverer Chassidus. But back then, it was far on the outskirts of the fledgling shtetl, which was then largely farmland. 

“2 injured as car overturns in Hillcrest,” wrote the Journal News on the following day. “Two persons were injured last night when the car in which they were riding overturned after colliding with another at the Route 45- New Hempstead Road intersection, Hillcrest. 

The injured, Michael J. McDonough, 25, of 23 Kendall Lane, North Tarrytown, driver of the car, and his passenger Miss Mary Ann Sagala, 21 of 119 Broadway, Haverstraw, were taken to Spring Valley General Hospital.” 

What is remarkable is that this hospital was only open for about fifteen years in total, and actually served the Skverer population—until the shtetl took it over. Today, it houses the boys cheder of New Square. Whoever transported the patients on that night did not have far to go… 

The story continues: 

Miss Sagala, suffering from shock and contusions of the forehead, was admitted. Hospital authorities said the girl is resting comfortably. McDonough was treated and released. 

A Spring Valley police officer, Burton Mann of Garnerville, returning home from work shortly after 7 p.m., saw the overturned car a few hundred feet from the intersection. Investigation revealed the two trapped inside and Mann forced the front door of the car, rescuing them. 

“The injured were taken to the hospital by a passing motorist, Lawrence Perlman of Garnerville.

“Investigating Ramapo police reported that McDonough’s car was struck from behind by a car operated by Ronald James Ryan, 30, of 3 Cedar Lane, Haverstraw. McDonough told police that he was hit while driving south on Route 45, the impact of the collision sending his car across the highway into a wooded area running parallel to the state road. Ryan was apparently uninjured. 

“Both cars, badly damaged, were towed from the scene. Hillcrest volunteers washed the highway clean of spilled gasoline. Miss Sagala’s brother, Michael, met his death in a similar accident almost in the same location last December 22 (indeed, newspaper reports from that time confirm this horrific story. One of them is featured below).” 

The intersection of Route 45 and New Hempstead Road is today frequented by Rockland residents and many visitors to the area, and now we’ve revisited about a harrowing accident that occurred there in the spring of 1962. 

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