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Published: 6/17/2007

Man run over by car in northwest Toledo dies

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Three pedestrians and the driver of a car were taken to Toledo Hospital after an accident in the parking lot of St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in northwest Toledo. Three pedestrians and the driver of a car were taken to Toledo Hospital after an accident in the parking lot of St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in northwest Toledo.
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James Rooney, the driver of the car that ran over the victim and who himself suffers from diabetes and a heart condition, is prepared for transport to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center. James Rooney, the driver of the car that ran over the victim and who himself suffers from diabetes and a heart condition, is prepared for transport to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center.
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An 83-year-old parishioner died last night less than two hours after he was run over by a car in the parking lot of a northwest Toledo church where he had just attended Mass.

George Wolinski of 1103 Branleigh Drive died about 7:25 p.m. in Toledo Hospital, where he was taken after emergency workers freed him from under a car at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church.

Mr. Wolinski was injured along with his 80-year old wife and his 55-year-old daughter, who were walking together along the church sidewalk about 5:30 p.m.

Toledo Police Sgt. Lee Kikolski said the driver of the car, James Rooney, 67, of 4408 Commonwealth Ave., was trying to leave the church lot and had started to back the vehicle when he mistakenly hit the gas instead of the brake. Mr. Rooney, who police said suffers from diabetes and a heart condition, was taken to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center. His condition was unavailable last night.

Mr. Wolinski's wife, Stephanie, was in serious condition in Toledo Hospital. His daughter Gloria Snyder, also of the Branleigh Drive address, suffered at least one broken foot and was in good condition in Toledo Hospital, Sergeant Kikolski said.

Greg Apt, an eyewitness who attended the church service, was talking to the parish priest, the Rev. Gary Walters, when he heard the thump of a car coming over the curb of the sidewalk at St. Catherine.

Within seconds Mr. Wolinski was pinned underneath the vehicle, which had come to rest on top of a low, decorative block wall by the shrubbery near the church sign at 4565 North Haven Ave.

Mr. Apt said that the daughter, who was apparently oblivious to her own injuries, began screaming with concern for her parents.

Everyone's first thought was "911," Father Walters said, recalling the awful first glimpses he got of the two women falling and the car climbing up the wall about 80 feet from where he was talking with Mr. Apt.

It took about 15 minutes for rescue workers to arrive at the church and use airbags to free Mr. Wolinski, Sergeant Kikolski said.

Mr. Apt said Father Walters darted into the church for oil which he used to bless Mr. Wolinski, his wife, and his daughter.

Mr. Rooney, who also is a parishioner at St. Catherine's, appeared to be in such shock after the crash that he remained in his car until someone helped him out, Mr. Apt said. Mr. Rooney's wife was with him in the car.

The car backed up over the sidewalk, across Ms. Snyder's feet, and into the Wolinskis, one of whom was using a walker, Mr. Apt said.

Mr. Apt, who was attending St. Catherine for the first time yesterday, estimated that no more than 15 people remained of the approximately 75 who attended Mass. Among them was a nurse, one of the first to run to the aid of Mrs. Wolinski and Ms. Snyder, while Mr. Wolinski was nearly hidden under the car.

The crash remained under investigation last night.

Contact Jane Schmucker at:

jschmucker@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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