Survivor to Survivor: "I know What Your Going Through"
(Construction crews begin setting up a new barrier at the site of the most recent crash.--Photo by Amparo Cruz)
(A classmate of one of the victims speaks to reporter's after a funeral mass for the seven victims at St. Raymond's Church in Parkchester.--Photo by David Greene)
By David Greene
A Bronxite who lost five members of his family as well as a close friend, has reached out to the Soundview family who lost seven members in the latest multi-fatal crash along the Bronx River Parkway.
Dexter Gardiner was hosting a memorial basketball game dedicated to his mother and sister who had passed away in the same year, when a horrific crash on July 9, 2006, claimed the lives of Asia, 6; Dexter's twin Derrick, 40; Jamel, 16; Tuywann, 23; brother in law Brandon Days, 18; and friend Jeremy Blackwell, 23.
The family members had left the game at St. James Park in the Fordham section, and were traveling southbound on the Bronx River Parkwway between the Bronx Zoo and E. 177 Street exits, when their vehicle jumped the center divider and plowed into on-coming traffic.
Gardiner, a Burke Avenue resident recalled, "I visited them the day after the crash. I know what they’re going through right now, so I just wanted to be there to support them."
Coincidentally, Gardiner was driving with his girlfriend when his son called to tell him about the car that flew off the Bronx River Parkway and into the Bronx Zoo on April 29.
The latest crash claimed the lives of Maria Gonzalez, 45; Maria Maria Munez, 39; Ana Martinez, 81; Jacob Nunez, 85; Jocelyn Gonzalez, 10; Niely Rosario, 7; and Marly Rosario, 3.
Recalling getting the tragic news, Gardiner stated, "Oh man, I was devastated. It was like a flashback... it was heartbreaking."
To no avail, Gardiner had reached out to state officials to fix the roadway, that had several major flaws but the State Department of Transportation (DOT) did nothing. In fact, Bronx Democratic District Leader Michael Robles survived when his car flew off the parkway last year and landed in front of a Bronx police station.
At the time the DOT vowed to make a statement, but the call never came.
This past week work crews had finished erecting two new, temporary barriers that will keep vehicles on the roadway in the event of a crash, until repairs cane be made.
Monte Dean, a spokesman for the DOT, stated, "The length of the barrier is about 3,000 feet in each direction. I don't have a cost yet either. No idea."
Asked about another trouble-spot identified by the Cross Bronx Expressway Initiative, which claims another dangerous location exists on the Cross Bronx Expressway near the Sheridan Expressway, Dean replied, "Well the specific conditions of Bronx River Parkway, where it had that shorter curb along the edge, but we're looking along the rest of the Bronx River Parkway, but I don't know if the Cross Bronx or the other roads have that, but I will ask our folks and see what they can tell me."
William Rivera of the Cross Bronx Initiative, who sent a letter to state officials back in November, 2011, fired back, "It sounds like a cliche, but seven people didn't have to tragically die to address unsafe conditions."
Attorney Jeff Korek of Gersowitz, Libo and Korek, who represents the only survivor from the 2006 crash, agreed, offering in a prepared statement, "The Bronx River Parkway has been an on-going problem due to, 'patchwork' and 'band aid," repairs and faulty design. A proper safety review of this roadway would have prevented many deaths, including these latest.
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