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Seven Killed in Bronx Zoo Vehicle Plunge
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On Sunday, an SUV skidded across three lanes of traffic and fell off a highway 60 feet onto the grounds of the Bronx Zoo. The accident killed all seven people in the vehicle, including grandparents who were visiting from the Dominican Republic. The crash marked the second time in one year that a vehicle plunged over the Bronx River Parkway guardrails and onto zoo grounds. The guardrails sit at roughly four feet high.

“It really is not as tall as many of the [vehicle] doors here,” Ruben Diaz, the Bronx borough president, said. “So it’s time at least in this portion of the parkway where it’s elevated … to call for higher railings. If not, this is going to happen again.”


The driver, 45-year-old Maria Gonzalez, was operating a 2004 Honda Pilot in the southbound lanes of the parkway in New York City around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. She lost control of the vehicle while in the left lane, hit the median in the center of the highway, traveled across all three lanes of traffic, hit the curb and plunged over the guardrail onto zoo grounds. The Pilot landed in a wooded area not accessible by the public and where no animals are located.

Gonzalez and all six passengers in the vehicle were killed. The victims included Gonzalez’s parents, Jacob Nunez and Ana Julia Martinez. They were the couple visiting from the Dominican Republic. Gonzalez’s sister, Maria Nunez; Gonzalez’s daughter, Jocelyn; and Gonzalez’s nieces, Niely Rosario and Marly Rosario were also killed. Officers said the vehicle was traveling at 70 MPH when it crashed and all passengers in the vehicle were wearing seatbelts.

“Sometimes you come upon events that are horrific, and this is one of them,” Ronald Werner, the deputy chief of the New York Fire Department said. Werner also said that he did not expect that any other vehicles were involved in the accident.

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Juan Gonzalez, the husband of the driver, called a store in his neighborhood in the Bronx with news of the accident and before long the whole neighborhood was stopping by to offer condolences. “She was a good mother … a very good mother,” Juan Gonzalez said as a police chaplain stood by his side.

The other vehicle to plunge off the parkway fell only 20 feet and the incident occurred in June. Both people in that vehicle survived the accident because the vehicle fell in a section that was not too far from the ground compared to where the Pilot fell on Sunday.



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