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

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 Reyes' 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
Reyes' bike and the ghost bike installed in his honor. Image: Cybele Grandjean

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