(Photo by David Greene)
By David Greene
BRONX, NEW YORK, OCTOBER 22- An elderly man visiting a doctor's office was struck and killed as two or possibly three cars hit the victim as they sped past a busy intersection.
According to storefront surveillance video, Angel Luis Figueroa, 74, was crossing E. Tremont Avenue where Whittmore Avenue meets Puritan Avenue, at 7:32 a.m., on October 21.
Investigators say Figueroa, who had just moved his car for the alternate-side street cleaning rules to the opposite side of the road, where he put quarters in the meter-- when he was plowed into by a 1999 Dodge Durango heading east.
Figueroa was then thrown into oncoming traffic in the west bound lane where police were still investigating if he was hit by a Silver Nissan SUV, driven by a woman who briefly stopped, but kept going. Figueroa was then run over by a 2013 Nissan Altima.
Good Samaritan Louis LaMorte, 22, who called police and attempted to give aid, recalled, "When I got over to him he still had a pulse and I was calling 911, but when I called 911, they were having trouble finding where Puritan Avenue was."
LaMorte estimates the delay took three to four precious minutes, and an EMS ambulance arrived four-minutes later. Figueroa died at the scene.
"As soon as I got to him," LaMorte continued, "his mouth was open and he was bleeding out of the back of his head and his ear. I was checking his pulse on his wrist and right on his neck and he still had a pulse and then it lightened-up and that was it, he was gone."
Livery taxi driver Jose Perez who works for DAT Car Service was driving the black Nissan that eventually ran over Figueroa, told reporters at the scene, "I saw the guy crossing the street and somebody was coming from the opposite direction and hit him."
Perez claimed to have been cut-off by the female driver who eventually left the scene. Perez, who apparently had a passenger in his vehicle, grimly recalled, "I just ran over him, pulled over to the right."
After several hours, police would eventually place handcuffs on the still-unidentified driver of the Durango, for reportedly driving with a suspended license. It's believed the female driver who fled the scene was also being questioned by police, but as of Tuesday, October 22, no charges had yet been filed.
According to Anna Diaz, 33, one of Figueroa's three daughters, he had worked for 40-years at the Manhattan Psychiatric Hospital before his retirement. He continued to stay busy, taking care of his blind wife, transporting his grandchildren to school and volunteering at the Jasa Senior Center in Pelham Bay.
The distraught Diaz recalled, "He was a very good husband, a very good provider. He took care of us very, very well."
When told that one of the driver's may have been operating without a valid drivers license, Diaz asked, "Why would you put somebody's life at risk? You (the driver) took somebody away from me that I need and now is no longer there."
Diaz continued, "If you’re not supposed to drive, don't drive. I don't wish him any harm, or anything, because I'm not that kind of person, but you just took away my life right now, he was all I had."
Besides now having to make funeral arrangements, the family was wondering how to break the news to Figueroa's two grandchildren, ages 5 and 8.
Diaz stated that Figueroa had an appointment at the Throggs Neck Medical Care facility and had moved his car for the street-sweeper and had moved the car to the opposite side of the street, adding, "He was worried about getting tickets."
Area residents call the three-block stretch of E. Tremont Avenue, from Baisley Avenue to Waterbury Avenue, 'The Devil's Curve," because of the winding roadway that has claimed at least two other lives in the last decade.
Meanwhile, a group of cyclists called, 'Right of Way,' have begun spray-painting street corners, drawing outlines resembling the chalk outlines once used by police, in an effort to bring attention to the number of children who are struck and killed on city roadways.
Currently the eight markers around the city also include the first name and age of a child and many also have the words, "No criminality suspected." Apparently referring to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, they are also writing the words, "Why, Ray, Why?"