Fatal Accident on Bronx River Parkway Destroys Family, Killing Seven Relatives

April 30, 2012

Maria Nunez-Gonzalez (second from right) was the driver in the fatal accident. Her daughter, Jocelyn (foreground center), was also killed in the crash.

April 30, 2012 — A tragedy on the Bronx River Parkway this past Sunday has shaken many to the core.  The car accident, which killed seven relatives, has prompted public outcry about the maintenance of New York State highways. Maria Gonzalez, 45, was behind the wheel when the 2004 Honda Pilot bounced off of a median, crossing three southbound lanes and flying over the guardrail. The van then plummeted fifty-nine feet to a ravine on the outskirts of the Bronx Zoo. All seven passengers in the vehicle – representing three generations of the Dominican-American family – were pronounced dead at the scene.

There were not the typical indicators of a recent automobile accident on the Parkway. A trail of skidmarks across the road were the only visible remnants to onlookers hours after the crash. The guardrail, over which van plunged, bore no scrapes. This led investigators to conclude that the vehicle was airborne prior to approaching the edge that overlooks the Bronx Zoo ravine.

In the car were Jacob Nunez, 85, and Ana Julia Martinez, 81, as well as three of their grandchildren, Jocelyn Gonzalez, 10, Niely Rosario, 7, and Marly Rosario, 3. Maria Gonzalez, the driver, was their daughter, and was accompanied by her sister, Maria Nunez, 39. The family was returning from a church service when the incident occurred. A medical examiner’s report is expected in the coming days, though speculations cite speeding as the probable cause or aggravator of the overcrowded vehicle’s demise. All passengers were wearing seatbelts when the accident occurred.

The Bronx River Parkway is not in pristine condition, and its uneven roadways have been host to serious accidents in the recent past. In June 2011, the operator of a northbound SUV hit a divider and fell twenty feet over a nearby section of the Parkway after skidding across two lanes. The vehicle landed on a parked pickup truck in a parking lot. The two people in the car were injured but not killed. In 2006, a similar accident near the Bronx Zoo overpass killed six people.

Studies have shown that speeding-related deaths make up 40% of roadway fatalities. The relative risk of even a ten-speed increase between 65MPH and 75MPH increases drivers’ chances of collision tenfold. Despite the current ambiguity surrounding the direct cause of the tragic accident, incidents like this stand as poignant reminders to remain aware of and abide by regulations on busy roads.

Jonel Gonzalez, a surviving family member and college student at Pace University, is a member of Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity. His brothers in the organization have set up a WePay page to subsidize the cost of the funeral, as well as a PayPal email for direct donations to remaining family members at [email protected].


-R. Sapon-White

Category: Regulations

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