UPDATE: Sanitation Truck Driver Arrested After Killing Pedestrian in Crown Heights

The garbage truck driver allegedly drove the wrong way onto Brooklyn Avenue. Notice the "Passenger Cars Only" sign. Photo: Google
The garbage truck driver allegedly drove the wrong way onto Brooklyn Avenue. Notice the "Passenger Cars Only" sign. Photo: Google

A Department of Sanitation garbage truck driver was arrested after running over and killing a man on Eastern Parkway Thursday morning, the NYPD said.

Driver Aaron Gilchrist was heading westbound on the parkway at 6:47 a.m. and turned right heading north onto Brooklyn Avenue, against the flow of traffic on the one-way street. That’s where he struck the 37-year-old pedestrian, killing him before cops even had a chance to arrive on the scene from a 911 call, police said.

Gilchrist, 33, was charged with failing to yield to a pedestrian, driving the wrong way on a one-way street and failing to exercise due care.

A spokesman for the Sanitation Department said Gilchrist, who has been with the department since December, 2005, has been suspended.

“We continue to cooperate fully with the NYPD,” said the spokesman, Vito Turso. “In addition, a DSNY safety investigation is also underway.”

The victim, Alberto Leal, lived on nearby Nostrand Avenue, NYPD said.

According to police, Gilchrist hit Leal as he turned right from Eastern Parkway onto Brooklyn Avenue — going the wrong direction on the southbound one-way.

City sanitation trucks generally have a better safety record than private sanitation companies, which have come under fire for killing cyclists and pedestrians. But in August, a city garbage truck driver severely injured a woman on Evergreen Avenue in Bushwick.

  • J. Geoff Rove

    Trash still needs to get picked up from the “car only” streets. Guessing that Eastern Pkwy is a quicker route to access the garbage routes than other streets. In Chicago, the municipal trucks use “no commercial trucks” US-41, LSD like in the song.
    At 6:47am it could have still been dark out or the driver was drowsy.

  • petercow

    And therefor what… he should be excused for killing a guy?

  • J. Geoff Rove

    The rail industry is installing PTC at a cost of $Billions to address the drowsy operator issue. The guy is not going to be resurrected. Maybe work the root cause issues to save the next walker.

  • Andrew

    The root cause is that a driver can fail to yield to a pedestrian, drive the wrong way on a one-way street, and fail to exercise d due care a thousand times each and will probably not be ticketed even once – unless he happens to kill someone one of those times, in which case he might (might) be ticketed.

    Across the entire city, the NYPD issues only 149 summonses per day for failure to yield to a pedestrian. I alone personally encounter dozens of motorists every day who fail to yield to me; each NYPD precinct should be issuing thousands of summonses per day in order to have an impact on driver behavior.

    Drowsiness – to latch onto the excuse you concocted for Aaron Gilchrist – does not cause a motorist to fail to yield, nor does it cause a motorist to drive the wrong way on a one-way street.

  • William Lawson

    That is absolutely 100% manslaughter. Driving a truck the wrong way down a one way street is an incredibly reckless thing to do which right from the gate represents a severe disregard for human life. Anyone crossing that street and expecting traffic to be coming the other way does not stand a chance. Charging this asshole with manslaughter and jailing him for 10-15 years would set an excellent precedent and serve as a deterrent to similar drivers.

  • ortcutt

    At first, I thought this comment was ludicrously shifting the subject, but it would make sense to put GPS on Sanitation Department (and private hauler) trucks to ensure that they are following the traffic laws, e.g., the speed limit and observing the direction of streets. It wouldn’t be PTC for trucks, but it would mean accountability for drivers and hauling companies.

  • Jeff Blum

    Is it notable that the arrests of drivers for killing pedestrians seem tilted toward people driving public vehicles – sanitation trucks, buses – and not the doubtless much larger group of people driving private cars? Anyone driving recklessly should be charged; but is there a bias that may include race, class and even distrust of government that is in play here? Is there data, or have other longer-term watchers of this phenomenon noticed this too?

  • kevd

    I’m not sure how the fact that DOS trucks can and do drive on Eastern Parkway excuses Gilchrist driving the wrong way down a one way street, failing to yield to a pedestrian crossing legally, hitting and killing that pedestrian, and then turning his truck to make it appear that he was not driving the wrong way.

    You seem to be grasping at straws for anything to excuse his actions.
    Yes, garbage needs to be picked up from “car only” streets.
    No DOS trucks cannot drive the wrong way down one way streets.

  • Daisy’s World

    Walking in New York is one of the great empowering privileges of living here — without money, gear or skill, a New Yorker can still get somewhere, autonomous and unencumbered. But along with that freedom comes inevitable risk. Longo was one of around 12,000 New York City pedestrians who were injured in traffic accidents in 2013, a statistic that has stayed fairly constant over the last five years. In 2014, the first year in which Mayor Bill de Blasio implemented Vision Zero, a plan to reduce pedestrian deaths to zero, 138 pedestrians died in traffic accidents. That was down from a five-­year high of 182 deaths in 2013.www.daisylimo.com

  • Greg

    Even worse, from https://abc7ny.com/37-year-old-man-killed-by-wrong-way-sanitation-truck/4461445/ :

    “The driver then turned around in the correct direction and came to a stop.

    When police arrived, the sanitation truck was parked in the same direction as all the other cars on Brooklyn Avenue, as if it had been heading north when the pedestrian was hit.”

    The driver tried to actively cover up the incident. Surely this demands much stronger charges?

  • J. Geoff Rove

    I’m going out on a limb and calling this a staged crash for the settlement money. Who doesn’t see a loud garbage truck when they step off the curb ? “Leal, 37, who lived nearby,”… what did Leal do for work ?? Did Leal see the truck every week taking that route ?? Does anyone in DSNY get a cut of the settlement ? I’m declaring Paulie Walnuts.

  • fdtutf

    What? Who the hell would stage a crash that involved an illegal turn onto a one-way street against the direction of traffic? You should declare yourself nuts instead.

  • Ben

    vision zero….serious charges for those killing pedestrians and cyclists.