Alberto Leal was tragically struck and killed by a Department of Sanitation (DSNY) garbage truck driving the wrong way down Brooklyn Avenue, a one-way road, on the morning of Thursday, October 11, 2018 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
Surveillance video captured the sanitation truck going the wrong way just moments after the driver apparently struck Mr. Leal while he was walking within a marked crosswalk near the intersection of Brooklyn Avenue and Eastern Parkway.
Shockingly, the video then shows the driver reverse direction and then turn around before police arrived, as if to hide the fact that he had been driving the wrong way on the street. When police arrived, Alberto Leal, 37, was found to have suffered severe head trauma and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver, 33-year-old Aaron Gilchrist, has been with DSNY since 2005 and is now being charged with failure to yield to a pedestrian, driving the wrong direction on a one-way street and failure to exercise due care.
To make matters worse, a woman named Aura Gispan who lives in the area said that “[t]here’s a school right here, children in the neighborhood. It’s really disturbing to see something like this happen.” This is particularly troubling considering that this accident occurred at around 7 a.m., when there easily could have been children present.
Our hearts go out to the friends and family of Mr. Leal, who had his life wrongfully taken with so many years ahead of him.
Tragic accidents resulting from the reckless behavior of New York garbage trucks are not new, although the level of audacity and reckless behavior from this particular driver certainly stands out. Back in April 2018, a 74-year-old man named Leon Clark was killed by a garbage truck as he attempted to cross the street in the Bronx.
Then, in August 2018, a cyclist in Bushwick barely managed to escape death after she was in a garbage truck hit-and-run accident which nearly severed her left arm. That same month, another life was claimed when the wheel from a garbage truck flew off and crashed through the windshield of a passing motorist who happened to work for the New York Police Department (NYPD).
The number of pedestrians who lose their lives in traffic accidents is especially high in New York. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows that 29.7% of all traffic fatalities in New York State in 2016 were pedestrians, the highest percentage in the nation and nearly double the national average. That same year, New York City alone suffered 230 traffic fatalities – 59.6% of which were pedestrians, far and away the highest percentage of any American city.
To combat this ongoing epidemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio launched the Vision Zero Action Plan, a comprehensive safety initiative designed to put an end to traffic fatalities across New York. Statistics included in this plan show that dangerous driver choices are the primary or contributing cause of 70% of pedestrian fatalities.
This was a man who was walking in a crosswalk and obeying the law, simply going about his business, and his life was snuffed out by the reckless behavior of a garbage truck operator who was willing to endanger so many men, women and children, just to make his job a little bit easier. It is a truly appalling act, and Mr. Leal’s family deserves justice and compensation for the trauma and suffering that Aaron Gilchrist has caused them.
The experienced wrongful death attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy have a history of successful litigation for New Yorkers who lose their lives due to other’s negligence, such as this $5,000,000 settlement after a mother of four was struck and killed by a garbage truck in Manhattan.
Lawsuits such as this are necessary not only to provide some small level of relief for grieving families, but also to deter companies and employees who operate negligently, selfishly believing that there will be no consequences for their actions.
There needs to be consequences when the law is broken. Let us all say a prayer for the friends and family of Alberto Leal, and hope that the driver of this garbage truck and the management above him who allowed this to happen are held responsible.
If your life has been changed forever as the result of a motor vehicle accident, get a free consultation by calling 212-736-5300 — there is no charge unless we win your case.