Sanitation officials had said earlier on Tuesday that they had to allow Aaron Gilchrist to return to work this week after the conclusion of his automatic 30-day suspension for running over Alberto Leal on Oct. 11 — but then said they would go further.
"Sanitation worker Gilchrist was suspended for 30 days, the maximum allowed by law," an agency source told Streetsblog. "He is currently administratively grounded, meaning he is prohibited from operating a DSNY vehicle.
"DSNY will be taking additional disciplinary action against the driver through the administrative process and will be seeking termination," the source concluded.
The killing of Leal, 37, shocked residents of Crown Heights. Police said that early on Oct. 11, Gilchrist, 37, drove his massive garbage truck the wrong way up Brooklyn Avenue from Eastern Parkway, where he struck Leal. Then Gilchrist turned his vehicle around in an attempt to cover up the crash, a video showed.
Gilchrist, who earned more than $120,000 last year, was charged with failure to yield, failure to exercise due care and driving the wrong way up a one-way street.
Council Member Robert Cornegy, who had called for Gilchrist to be fired, was ultimately less than excited by the Sanitation move.
“While DSNY’s new response is a welcome and positive step, it seems clear that the agency only took this action due to public pressure," Cornegy said in a statement. "Let’s remember that after it was first reported that this driver was returning to work, DSNY just said that he was back in an office job and that they were simply grounding him from driving a truck ‘until we are advised that it is OK for him to return to full duty.’ So I’m pleased that our pressure on DSNY was effective in this case, but we need to keep working to advance a broader shift in the agency’s mindset on these issues as part of efforts to increase safety in waste collection across New York City.”
Teamsters Local 831, which represents Sanitation workers, was "closed" for the night, and could not respond to a reporter's query, an operator said.
Story was updated on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 1:30 p.m. to include a statement from CM Cornegy.
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