NYC Sanitation Truck Involved in Deadly Hit and Run Accident

Howard Raphaelson
Partner, Attorney

A New York City sanitation truck operating in the South Bronx was involved in a fatal hit and run accident early Tuesday at approximately 6:30 a.m. The incident occurred at the intersection of Willis Avenue and 138th Street.

Early Morning Tragedy Occurs in the Mott Haven Section of the Bronx

Police said a sanitation sand spreader made a turn, hit a woman, and then fled the scene, leaving her laying on the road. The woman, who had been walking eastbound on 138th Street, was struck when the sanitation truck, also going eastbound, was making a left turn onto Willis Avenue. After completing the turn and hitting the woman, the truck reportedly continued on driving without stopping.

A witness captured a "dramatic and disturbing" video on their cell phone just moments after the deadly crash occurred. A nearby cell phone store also caught the footage on its surveillance video, turning the imagery of the sanitation truck accident over to the NYPD. Authorities later found the truck at the Nelson Diaz Sanitation Garage District 4. According to several news outlets, the Sanitation Department confirmed the truck shown in the footage given to police was one of theirs.

The victim was later identified by NBC News New York as Maria Cruz, an 80-year-old grandmother. Cruz had sustained severe trauma to her body and succumbed to the injuries on the scene of the accident. Her devastated family said their loved one had routinely left to buy her morning paper, but never returned. Family members say Cruz was an active and independent octogenarian before she was ruthlessly left to die on the city street. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victim in the wake of this senseless and tragic accident.

The 33-year-old driver who was behind the wheel of the sanitation truck at the time of the crash was suspended. The accused maintains he was not aware he had hit someone and, at the time of writing, hasn't been charged by police, pending an investigation. The Sanitation Department is also conducting an internal investigation.

To be classified as a hit and run, at least one person involved in the event must leave the scene before reporting the crash, providing assistance to other parties, and offering adequate information to authorities. In this case, the accused left the scene of the accident, and reports are not clear how he was later brought in for questioning.

Pedestrian and Hit and Run Accidents in New York City

Unfortunately, in New York City pedestrian accidents are fairly common. According to November 2018 statistics listed by city officials, 1082 pedestrians in the city were injured and 14 killed by motor vehicles. Of those accidents, 183 pedestrian injuries and one death had occurred specifically in the Bronx.

While pedestrian accidents are a huge concern, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety confirms the number of hit and run accidents is also a growing problem in our society. According to their numbers, deaths from hit and runs in the United States have reached an "all-time high." The figures, released in April 2018, confirmed 2016 (the most recent available data) reached a historical high in decades of tracking. The data on fatal motor vehicle accidents first began being compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 1975.

Sixty-five percent of the people killed in motor vehicle accidents were pedestrians or cyclists. Furthermore, 20 percent of these were victims of hit and runs. This is compared to one percent of deaths being driver fatalities, showing that far more pedestrians are victims in these crashes.

Despite efforts to curb the problem of drivers hitting pedestrians, regrettably, most of the people responsible for the hit and run accidents in New York City avoid arrest. According to statistics, even in "the most serious cases", most hit and run drivers don't face consequences for their actions. For instance, only 24 of the 62 incidents in 2017 that led to critical injury or death led to arrest. This situation needs to change.

While we can't take away the grief that comes with losing a family member, we do tirelessly fight on our clients' behalf. If you or a loved one have been victims of a hit and run accident, you deserve justice. The attorneys at Raphaelson & Levine will offer you compassionate and knowledgeable representation for your suffering. We are here to make sure you receive lawful compensation for the emotional trauma and damage you have suffered. To learn more about motor vehicle accident results or to better understand your rights after a truck accident occur, please call us today at 212-268-3222 for free legal consultation.

Howard Raphaelson
Partner, Attorney
Howard A. Raphaelson founded Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm, P.C. in 1992 after graduating from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, NY. With over thirty years of experience as a personal injury lawyer, he has earned a trusted reputation from his peers, judges, and top leaders, including recognition among the top 5% injury attorneys as a “Super Lawyer” (Thomson Reuters) and “New York’s Best Lawyers” (New York Magazine).

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