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Two attending police officers, as well as a technician from the City ambulance, directed the Hatzolah driver to remove Lifsh from the scene for his safety, while Gavin Cato was being removed from beneath the station wagon. ", jeered the driver of the car and then turned their anger on the police.According to the New York Times, more than 250 neighborhood residents, mostly black teenagers, many of whom were shouting "Jews! Some members of the community were outraged because Lifsh was taken from the scene by a private ambulance service while city emergency workers were still trying to free the children who were pinned under the car.At approximately pm on Monday, August 19, 1991, Yosef Lifsh, 22, was driving a station wagon with three passengers west on President Street, part of the three-car motorcade of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, leader of the Chabad Lubavitch Hasidic movement.The police car and Schneerson's automobile crossed Utica Avenue on a green light and proceeded along President Street at a normal speed, but Lifsh's vehicle had fallen behind.In its wake, several Jews were seriously injured and one Orthodox Jewish man was killed.
Other rumors circulating shortly after the accident included: Lifsh was on a cell phone, Lifsh did not have a valid driver's license, and that police prevented people, including Gavin Cato's father, from assisting in the rescue.Lifsh's vehicle struck a car being driven on Utica Avenue, veered onto the sidewalk, knocked a 600-pound (275 kg) stone building pillar down and pinned two children against an iron grate covering the window of a first-floor apartment in a four-story brick building ().Seven-year-old Gavin Cato, the son of Guyanese immigrants, who was on the sidewalk near his apartment on President Street, repairing his bicycle chain, died instantly.His seven-year-old cousin Angela Cato, who was playing nearby, survived but was severely injured.
Lifsh said he deliberately steered his car away from adults on the sidewalk, toward the wall, a distance of about 25 yards (23 m), in order to stop the car.They also maintained that this was one example of a perceived system of preferential treatment afforded to Jews in Crown Heights.