A 73-year-old woman from St. James, New York visited her church in Long Island on Saturday to drop off clothes for donation when a 50-year-old woman tried to steal her car, running over her leg in the process.
ChurchLeaders reported that Lorraine Lombardo, a retired nurse, parked her car for a while in front of St. Mary's Episcopal Church in New York's Lake Ronkonkoma so she can drop off her donations. The car, a 2013 Chevrolet Spark, was quickly spotted by Doreen Dunbar, who was homeless.
Upon realizing what Dunbar was doing, Lombardo immediately got back to her car and got hold of the steering wheel. But Dunbar stepped on the gas after shifting the car into reverse, causing Lombardo to fall. The car then backed over Lombardo's legs and injured it.
The police said Dunbar crashed into a guardrail and fence before she fled the scene on foot. Law enforcement located her through a helicopter and K9 unit search. Dunbar has been arrested and brought to Stony Brook University Hospital for evaluation. She has been charged with first-degree assault and second-degree robbery. No date has been scheduled for her arraignment but it was set at the First District Court in Central Islip.
Meanwhile, Lombardo has been taken to a hospital-the same as Dunbar's-and currently recovering from her non-life-threatening injuries. A St. Mary's spokesperson said they are praying for Lombardo's full recovery and that justice is granted to her for what transpired.
A witness to the incident, Kathleen White, recounted to a local reporter what took place that Saturday evening. White lives next door to the church and she came outside just in time to see a woman walking away and another woman on the ground saying, "Stop here. She was stealing my car."
According to White, she was still trying to understand what was happening when the woman returned to the woman on the ground to argue about the car's ownership, claiming it is hers. White thought that the police can better figure out who really owned the car and called 911. At that time, she said the woman walked away again from the woman on the ground. White then told the media of her dismay for the frightening way things ended for Lombardo.
"That's just really sad that you're that desperate to have to take somebody else's car as they're doing a good deed," White said.
White's remarks are echoed by parishioner Maureen Watts-Cassero who stressed that getting run over is such a horrible thing to happen to anyone, especially when you're doing a kind deed. Another neighbor, Eugene Rath, commented on the incident, telling CBS News that it is indeed a terrible outcome but with an important lesson for everyone.
"It's terrible that somebody wants to donate clothes to the church and...But it's a lesson: don't leave the keys in the car with the motor running," Rath remarked.
Churchgoers on the other hand revealed being frightened by the incident. One parishioner, Elida Clement, told CBS News that she regularly comes to church to buy stuff in the thrift store. Clement emphasized that the thrift store is her favorite place but has now become a little scared because of what happened to Lombardo.
Netizens reportedly found sympathy for Dunbar because Lombardo left her car running. While other people defended her that it is not her fault. The news item is said to have sparked online debates on crime and homelessness.