Gruesome NYC Crash Sparks Calls for Safety on Deadly Stretch of Road

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Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Junior (Photo by Matthew Schuerman - WNYC)

(New York, NY - WNYC) Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Junior is calling for a thorough safety inspection of the overpass on the stretch of the Bronx River Parkway in NYC where a crash killed seven on Sunday.

Three generations of the same family, including three kids, were killed on Sunday when an SUV leapt a guardrail on the Parkway and plunged into a ravine in the Bronx Zoo below.

Several accidents have occurred on that stretch of parkway, including one last summer in which two were injured, and another fatal crash in 2006.

Diaz wants the investigation to include the parkway’s guardrails. He also stressed that the road surface should be better maintained.

"Why is it if the rest if the parkway is always smooth, in the elevated portions there's always potholes," he asked. "There are joiners in the elevated section and it's always a problem to get over them, there's always something wrong with the roadway."

A spokesman for the American Automobile Association's New York City affiliate also expressed concerns about a number of issues on the parkway, such as narrow lanes, steep hills, tight turns, no breakdown lane and inadequate guardrais.

AAA’s Robert Sinclair said the Bronx River Parkway was opened in 1925 and lacks modern engineering features.

William P. Reynolds, a spokesman for the New York State Department of Transportation,  said an investigation is ongoing. "We are working closely with all agencies involved to determine the cause of this tragic accident," he said.

The NYPD said at a briefing Monday that Maria Gonzalez was driving at 68 m.p.h.when she bumped the concrete highway divider and damaged a tire. Police say she was likely going with the flow of traffic, which is often faster than the posted 50 miles per hour speed limit.

The city medical examiner said all seven passengers died of blunt force trauma to the head. The deaths have been ruled accidental. Toxicology reports won't be ready for several weeks.

Diaz said Juan Gonzalez, husband of the woman who was driving the SUV and father of one of the girls in the vehicle was, “devastated.”

"He's distraught." Diaz said of Gonzalez. "In the Bronx and as New Yorkers, we are crying and mourning for this family. Three generations is really tough to lose and we should make sure that this never happens again."

Relatives said they're wracked with grief and shock. A wake is planned for Thursday.

With the Associated Press