Crash spurs new calls for Parkway fixes
By Graham Kates
In the aftermath of a terrifying crash that sent an SUV hurtling off the Bronx River Parkway killing all seven people inside on Sunday, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is seeking upgrades to the dangerous stretch of road where the crash occurred.
Maria Gonzalez, 45, was driving the 2004 Honda Pilot about 70 miles per hour in the southbound left lane, when the vehicle struck the center median, crossed over three lanes and struck the curb, police said. The car went airborne, flying over the guardrail and plunging about 59 feet into the Bronx Zoo below.
Ms. Gonzalez was killed, as were passengers Jocelyn Gonzalez, Maria Nuñez, Niely Rosario, Marly Rosario, Jacob Nuñez and Ana Julia Martinez. They represented three generations from one Bronx family, according to various media reports.
It was the second accident in less than a year in which a car took a similar fall. Bronx Democratic District Leader Michael Robles was driving in the northbound lane last June when he swerved, hit the median and shot across two lanes of traffic before his car was sent over the edge. He and the car’s passenger somehow survived.
A 2006 crash at almost the same spot, which also involved careening from the median, left six dead.
Mr. Diaz, the borough president, said he’d like to see higher guardrails or fencing along the Bronx River Parkway.
“The railings are too low,” Mr. Diaz said. “The iron cast railings are lower than my waist.”
Speaking outside City Hall in Manhattan on Monday, Mr. Diaz said his office has been in touch with the Lieutenant Governor’s office as well as the New York State Department of Transportation. His Communications Director John DeSio said on Tuesday that guardrails are just one detail officials should look into.
“We’ve already been calling for higher fences … and that’s not only for the drivers but for people in the park,” Mr. DeSio said. “There are expansion joints on the Bronx River Parkway, and that’s one of the problems that people have brought up.”
Expansion joints are grated metal plates placed across highways to absorb heat-induced expansion. On a road known for fast drivers and short guardrails, there’s fear that the brief bump caused by going over the joints could be dangerously exacerbated.
“If you drive south when you’re in the right lane, you feel your car go up,” Mr. DeSio said. “It feels like there are launching pads that send cars into the air.”