State transportation officials moved quickly Wednesday to install taller traffic barriers along the elevated stretch of Bronx River Parkway where seven people died after their SUV plunged over a four foot guardrail.
The accident killed four adults and three children from one family when the southbound SUV landed on its roof in a wooded area of the Bronx Zoo on Sunday, April 29.
It drew calls from local officials for more safety measures.
The state Department of Transportation responded by sending a work crew on Wednesday to install the new tallers barriers on the roadway near East 180th Street.
Killed in the crash were the driver Maria Gonzalez, 45; front passenger Jacob Nunez, 85; second row passengers Maria Nunez, 39 and Ana Julia Martinez, 81; a third row passengers Jocelyn Gonzalez, 10, Niely Rosario, 7, and Marly Rosario, 3.
They were in the white Honda Pilot SUV going about 70 MPH in a 50 MPH zone when Gonzalez lost control and it bounced off a “Jersey Barrier” and flew over a guardrail and into the zoo 60 feet below.
Niely attended first grade at St. Lucy’s Catholic School, where parents were stunned over the 7-year old’s death. “It was really hard for me yesterday because my son was playing baseball with the brother of one of the girls that died, and we were devastated when we heard the news,” said parent Elani Alejandro. “Then today I find out that my little son was actually in first grade with one of the little girls that passed away.”
Grief counselors were sent to the school.
“We had a couple of first graders who asked to see the counselor,” said principal Jane Stefanini. “The counselor told the students it was a horrible accident and that the doctors could not save the people in the accident.”
Another vehicle plunged over a nearby guardrail in June 2011, and a number of borough electeds, including Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., called for an investigation. Soundview Assemblyman Marcos Crespo said that he was grateful for the quick response by state authorities, adding that out of respect to the Gonzalez family, it was “the right thing to do.”
“This is going to be probably the start of an effort that is going to take some time and cost some funds,” Crespo said, “but is ultimately worth it if we save lives.”