New York, NY — AAA has found that the stretch of road where seven people were killed when their van jumped over a guardrail and they fell to their deaths reportedly has narrow lanes, steep hills, tight turns, inadequate guardrails and no breakdown lanes, the Associated Press reports.
The Bronx River Parkway "lacks modern transportation engineering features," said Robert Sinclair, spokesman for the American Automobile Association's New York City affiliate told AP. He said it was conceived in 1907 and opened in 1925 as "the first limited access multilane highway in the U.S."
In fact, three sections of the parkway, including one at or near the accident site, are among the Transportation Department’s 5 Percent List, a federally mandated report of locations that are “exhibiting the most severe highway safety needs.”
Seven people were killed last Sunday when the driver of a Honda Pilot, Maria Gonzales, clipped a highway divider and damaged a tire, before skidding across three lanes of traffic, hitting a 2-foot-high concrete curb, and was sent flying off the highway six stories into a ravine on the grounds of the Bronx Zoo. Gonzales was reportedly traveling at 68 mph—well above the posted 50 mph limit. Police reported that speeding is common in that area, and Gonzales may have been just trying to keep up with traffic.
The deceased were indentified as Jacob Nunez, 85, and Ana Julia Martinez, 81, who were visiting from the Dominican Republic; their daughters, Gonzalez, 45, and Maria Nunez, 39, and three grandchildren. The children were Jocelyn Gonzalez, 10, the daughter of the driver, Niely Rosario, 7, and Marly Rosario, 3, both daughters of Nunez.
Autopsies showed that all seven people died from blunt force trauma. The deaths have been ruled as an accident.
Investigations are ongoing.
Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley-Legal news for New York City automobile accident lawyers.