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Medical Examiner Rules Deadly Bronx SUV Crash Was An Accident

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TWC News: Medical Examiner Rules Deadly Bronx SUV Crash Was An Accident
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The city medical examiner's office has determined that the deadly Sunday crash that killed seven members of the same Bronx family was an accident.

The medical examiner also told the AP that all seven family members died from blunt-force trauma.

Police say that Maria Gonzalez, 45, was driving southbound at 70 mph in a Honda Pilot in a 50 mph zone of the Bronx River Expressway with six family members. At 12:30 p.m., she suddenly struck the parkway's center barrier, careened back across three lanes of traffic, hit the high curb, and then flipped over the four-feet-high guardrail.

The car dropped about 60 feet and landed upside-down on an unused, wooded portion of the Bronx Zoo in the West Farms section of the Bronx.

The impact killed Gonzalez; her 10-year-old daughter Jazlyn; her parents, 85-year-old Jacob Nunez and 81-year-old Ana Julia Martinez; her sister, 39-year-old Maria Nunez, and two nieces, seven-year-old Naily Rosario and three-year-old Maily Rosario.

A wake will be held for the victims on Thursday, with a funeral set for Friday morning.

The grandparents, who were visiting from the Dominican Republic, will be buried in their homeland.

"This is a big drama. Seven people die at the same time," said Vice Consul Tamayo Tejada of the Dominican Republic's Consulate in New York. "Everybody's sad about it."

As mourners gathered by the victims' homes in Soundview, Bronx, 11-year-old Williana Valerio told NY1 she thought her cousin, Jazlyn Gonzalez, would be her best friend for life.

"I only knew her for 10 years and that made me feel bad because I thought she would be there for my life and I'm going to be there for her life," said Williana.

Sunday's crash was not the first along that stretch of the Bronx River Parkway.

Last June, an SUV heading northbound lost control, hit a divider and plunged 20 feet, landing on a pickup truck inside a parking lot below.

Both the driver and passenger survived.

In 2006, six people were killed in another crash at the same location. That vehicle jumped the center divider and slammed into oncoming traffic.

That vehicle jumped the center divider and slammed into oncoming traffic.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. visited the widowers of Maria Nunez and Maria Gonzalez on Monday and is calling for an upgrade to the parkway, which was completed in the 1950s.

Diaz said there need to be higher railings to prevent similar crashed but he also said drivers also need to be careful.

"We call on all of the motorists to slow down. Perhaps we have to do better on signage. Perhaps we have do better visibility with law enforcement. Perhaps we have to warn people or have certain graphics or paintings on the ground," said Diaz. "The railing is not even as tall as many of the doors on the cars here."

Attorney Glenn Finley, who represented a survivor of the 2006 crash in a lawsuit against the city and state, said while the city replaced the center median four years ago, the ones along the edge of the roadway were not changed.

Finley said state engineering inspection records from as far back as 2003 show the barriers were substandard.

"That barrier is not even quite knee-high, and the effect that a barrier like that has is when a tire is careening towards it and the tire hits it, it's a wrap-up kind of effect and it causes a vehicle to go airborne."

AAA New York says the parkway predates modern transportation engineering and needs to be rebuilt. The group also says the police need visible speed enforcement on that stretch of parkway.

"Really what needs to be done is either elimination of that curb or much higher railing so it can catch vehicles that get catapulted off it," said Robert Sinclair Jr. of AAA New York.

Diaz said state officials are receptive to making changes to the road.

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