A 64-year-old NYPD maintenance worker was killed in an accident on the Gowanus Expressway Wednesday, August 1 that officials are saying could – and should have – been prevented.
According to authorities, the victim, Robert Martinez, was traveling eastbound in the expressway’s HOV lane near Third Avenue in a 2003 Chevy Tracker when, at around 6:30 a.m., a rear passenger side tire came unhinged from a 2009 Mack garbage truck traveling westbound.
The tire crossed over the center median, and struck and shattered the windshield of the Chevy, fatally injuring Martinez, a civilian employee of the NYPD.
The 46-year-old operator of the garbage truck and its passenger, a 27-year-old man, remained at the scene.
While the investigation is still ongoing, there has been no shortage of criticism of the company that owns the truck.
Locally, Councilmember Justin Brannan was quick to condemn its operator, Century Waste Services, a New Jersey company, he says, that has a long history of loose wheels, failed inspections, reckless drivers and dangerous crashes.
“I promise you have not heard the end of this one,” he wrote on Facebook.
According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records, the 32-truck fleet has been involved in at least three crashes with injuries, and has had more than half its vehicles deemed unfit to drive.
Over the past two years alone, Century Waste has received more than 75 violations for unsafe conditions, records show.
In a statement, Century Waste called the incident “an unfortunate accident.”
“Our hearts go out to the family of the victim. This event was an unfortunate accident,” the company said. “We are fully cooperating with the investigation of this tragic event.”
Martinez, a Staten Island resident, was on his way to NYPD Headquarters in Manhattan when he died.
He reportedly leaves behind a wife and three children.