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Man dies after driving car through Queens park into East River

Aug. 6, 2023 By Ben Brachfeld

A man died early Sunday morning after driving his car through a Queens park and ultimately into the East River.

Police say that Martins Gonzales, 24, of Centereach, Long Island, drove a BMW SUV through the entrance of Rainey Park, at 34th Avenue and Vernon Boulevard in Astoria, in the wee hours of Sunday. The driver continued through the park before crashing through a fence and ultimately sending his car into the East River at around 3:30 a.m.

NYPD Harbor units recovered the vehicle and Gonzales’ remains from the river a little before 8:30 p.m. Sunday. Gonzales was pronounced dead on the scene.

The car was recovered just days after the body of 27-year-old John Castic was found in Newtown Creek, near the Grand Street Bridge, after he had disappeared following a night out at the Brooklyn Mirage in Bushwick. His father suspects that he drowned in the creek while walking home from the club on July 29.

Castic’s death in the creek came just weeks after another concertgoer, Karl Clemente, was found dead in Newtown Creek after being turned away from a show at the Brooklyn Mirage.

Police have not indicated they suspect foul play in the incidents. Nevertheless, local pols are calling for infrastructure investments to improve safety in the area, which is largely and historically industrial but is host to numerous music venues.

CORRECTION: This story initially stated the car was recovered from Newtown Creek. It was recovered in the East River near Astoria. We regret the error.

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