Remembering Gelacio Reyes, Father of 3, Struck By a Drunk Driver While Biking Home From Work

Reyes, who was biking to his family's home in Corona from his shift as a delivery worker in Manhattan, lost his life "with his favorite way of transportation," said his wife, Flor Jimenez.

Gelacio Reyes.
Gelacio Reyes.

On Saturday morning, the family of Gelacio Reyes gathered with Queens residents and Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer to install a ghost bike in his memory at the Sunnyside intersection where he was killed by a drunk, unlicensed driver four weeks prior.

A memorial ride traveled from the East Side restaurant at 65th Street and First Avenue where Reyes worked to the Corona neighborhood where he lived, stopping at 43rd Avenue and 39th Street to hear from Flor Jimenez, his widow, who spoke through tears alongside their three children. (Claudia Corcino, the founder of Ciclistas Latinoamericanos de Nueva York, translated from the Spanish.)

Gelacio Reyes' wife Flor Jimenez and their three children at Saturday's memorial. Photo: Macartney Morris
Gelacio Reyes’s wife Flor Jimenez and their three children at Saturday’s memorial. Photo: Macartney Morris

“[Gelacio] always said that riding his bicycle relaxed the body and opened his mind,” said Jimenez. “You get to know more places and get to know more friends. For me, it is very sad that my husband lost his life with his favorite way of transportation.”

“We leave this ghost bike here today as a reminder of Gelacio and a reminder to everyone passing by that we have not yet achieved Vision Zero,” said Van Bramer.

After a crash on April 11 at the same intersection left another cyclist in critical condition, Van Bramer called on the city to install a protected bike lane on 43rd Avenue, which is the primary eastbound connection from the Queensboro Bridge and Long Island City.

Cristian Guiracocha, the motorist who killed Reyes, has been charged with felony drunk driving, felony aggravated unlicensed operation, and circumventing an ignition interlock device, according to the Daily News. Guiracocha has yet be charged specifically for killing Reyes, but an investigation is still underway, Jimenez’s lawyer Peter Beadle told Streetsblog.

The fatal crash occurred in the 108th Precinct. Despite the copious evidence that Guiracocha had no business being behind the wheel that day, commanding officer Captain Ralph Forgione blamed Reyes for his own death, telling attendees at last week’s precinct community council meeting that he had run a red light, according to the LIC Post.

Forgione has boasted in recent weeks about increased enforcement against cycling infractions. Bike tickets were up 1,000 percent last month from the previous year, he said at last week’s meeting. Enforcement against driving violations increased by 13 percent.

On Saturday, Jimenez said her husband was doing what he needed to get by. “Cyclists work hard to provide for their families,” she said. “MetroCards are increasingly expensive and cycling is a [cheaper] mode of transportation.”

Reyes' bike and the ghost bike installed in his honor. Image: Cybele Grandjean
Gelacio Reyes’s bike and the ghost bike installed in his memory. Image: Cybele Grandjean
  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Forgione’s response to the first crash is directly responsible for raising the probability of the second. Him and Thomas Chan are torpedoing Vision Zero with enforcement based on prejudices rather than data. They are killing people.

    Perhaps the Mayor, if he gave a damn, could try to do something about this (start by reassigning Chan), but ultimately we need better design and automated enforcement to remove the Keystone Cops from the important work of street safety altogether.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Forgione’s response to the first crash at this location is directly responsible for raising the probability of the second, in which Reyes was killed. Him and Thomas Chan are torpedoing Vision Zero with enforcement based on prejudices rather than data. They are killing people.

    Perhaps the Mayor, if he gave a damn, could try to do something about this (start by reassigning Chan), but ultimately we need better design and automated enforcement to remove the Keystone Cops from the important work of street safety altogether.

    One look at how Forgione keeps his station house should tell you everything you need to know about what he thinks of walking and cycling in this city. This is a corrupt relic:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9e6f8976932a912789dc3df2169aea37cb91973a203eb37108b8c292cf959eec.png

  • Komanoff

    The linked article in LICPost has C.O. Forgione saying that “Reyes had gone through a red light at the time of the tragedy, which played a role in his death.” Does anyone know the source of Forgione’s supposed information?

  • guest

    Thank you to TA Queens & Ciclistas Latinoamericanos de NY for organizing the memorial ride & ghost bike installation, and to Flor for her strength in showing up and speaking out. I cried like a baby and feel sick to my stomach that our city is allowing these fatalities & countless injuries to keep piling up. I hope our community can stand by Gelacio’s family and help out in the years to come, whether through fundraisers or other means of help.

    This tragedy reminded me of Cesar, a worker at Stromboli Pizzeria in the East Village, who was killed by a truck driver in Brooklyn while biking home late after work in late 2013. Also an immigrant from Mexico, and also left behind a wife and 3 young children. I don’t think the truck driver was ever charged or ticketed.
    http://evgrieve.com/2013/10/stromboli-pizza-worker-killed-cycling.html

  • Ken Dodd

    Oh I’m 100% certain that this information came from the scumbag drunk driver who killed him. The NYPD will always take the word of a killer driver as gospel without any substantiating evidence to support it. If it means less investigative work and less paperwork, they’ll take every opportunity to keep the charges down to a minimum.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

This concept for a protected bike lane on 43rd Avenue in Sunnyside emphasizes safety for cyclists and pedestrians at intersections. Image: Max Sholl

Yes, There’s Room for a Protected Bike Lane on 43rd Avenue

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In April, a drunk driver killed Gelacio Reyes, 32, on 43rd Avenue at 39th Street as he biked home in the early morning from work in Midtown Manhattan. Now advocates are renewing their call for DOT to install a protected bike lane on 43rd Avenue and its westbound counterpart, Skillman Avenue, which connect the Queensboro Bridge to the protected bike lanes on Queens Boulevard.