Push for traffic safety moves after E. Tremont fatal

Locals are demanding improved safety measures on a speedy stretch of E. Tremont Avenue in Throggs Neck where a senior citizen was fatally struck by oncoming traffic.

The victim, 74-year-old local Angel Figueroa, was crossing E. Tremont at Puritan Avenue headed north just before 8 a.m. Monday, Oct. 21 when he was hit first by a red Dodge Durango traveling east.

Figueroa was thrown across the lane and struck by a black Nissan Altima car service vehicle headed in the opposite direction.

He landed in the middle of the street and was pronounced dead at the scene from severe body trauma, police said.

Speed-happy street

The Throggs Neck section of the wide avenue that runs through the borough has long been considered treacherous for pedestrians, said Bob Bieder, president of the 45th Precinct Community Council. He said drivers often gun their engines in the hopes of making it through consecutive traffic lights, which are out of sync and encourage speeding over the citywide 30 MPH limit.

“If you want to make the next light, you have to go 50 or 60 miles per hour,” he said. “That’s how people drive here.”

It was not immediately clear how fast the Dodge SUV was going when it struck Figueroa, but surveillance video from nearby Anthony’s Flower Farm on E. Tremont Avenue shows Figueroa wandering into the street against moving traffic. The driver of the Dodge, the first car to hit Figueroa, was arrested for having a suspended license but was driving with a green light, a police source said.

The driver of the second vehicle to hit Figueroa, said that the man’s body fell directly in front of his car’s left wing.

“I ran over him and pulled over to the right,” said the man, who declined to give his name

Dead on arrival

Eyewitnesses to the crash described a gruesome scene. Figueroa’s body lay in the street for over three hours, and was eventually covered with a sheet until the Fire Department arrived at 11:30 a.m and hosed down the spot where the collision took place.

“I saw a lot of blood to his neck and head,” said Ronald Giambastiani, who drove by a few minutes after the crash. “There was a nurse leaning over his body, looking for a pulse, and I asked her ‘do you need any help? Can I help give CPR?’ But she just looked at me and said ‘he’s gone.”

Police originally sought a third driver who sped from the scene, but upon investigation have decided that only the red Dodge Durango and black Altima car service vehicle struck Figueroa, a police source said.

Figueroa lived at Logan and Dewey Avenues, police said. The 74-year-old was headed to the doctor’s office, Figueroa’s granddaughter Anna Diaz told NBC.

Traffic calming ideas

In response to the crash, Community Board 10 is asking the Department of Transportation to install a speed meter and more speed limit signs on E. Tremont Avenue, as well as a speed bump on Puritan Avenue.

Bobby Jean, who owns the flower shop steps from where the collision took place, said that traffic-calming changes could not come soon enough.

“How many more people have to die,” he asked, “before the authorities get their act together and do something about this?”

Ben Kochman can be reach via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (718) 742-3394

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