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Delivery Worker Killed in Crash with Apparently Illegally Parked Truck, Cops and a Witness Says

6:38 AM EST on December 14, 2021

The site is so frequently blocked by trucks that it’s even on Google Street View.

Crash victim Salvador Navarette-Flores
Crash victim Salvador Navarette-Flores

A delivery worker on a small moped was killed when he struck a truck that had been parked, possibly illegally, in the roadway on a stretch of First Avenue that is known as a location where food delivery truck drivers unload their items, police and a witness said.

According to the NYPD, Salvador Navarette-Flores, 31, of The Bronx was riding his Jiajue moped on First Avenue near 76th Street at around 5:10 p.m. on Monday when he "struck a parked 2019 Freightliner box truck."

It is unclear if Navarette-Flores was in the bike lane as he approached the intersection with 76th Street or in the furthest left lane of the roadway, as the preliminary police report said.

The witness provided pictures that show the truck operator parked in the left-most travel lane, which is not illegal if the worker is making an "expeditious" delivery. Containers of unloaded material are right up against the bike lane and in a cross-hatched no parking area at a fire hydrant. The amount of goods suggest that the delivery was not "expeditious," which would allow a driver to block a travel lane so long as it is not the sole travel lane on a street, a Department of Transportation official said.

A witness who arrived on the scene described the illegally parked truck and its driver's unloading practices.
A witness who arrived on the scene described the illegally parked truck and its driver's unloading practices.

The witness suggested that such unloading occurs often and is not "expeditious."

"This is right at the spot where Fresh Direct is daily illegally parked and unloading into the roadbed," the witness said. "You can see in the pics a worker was being interviewed by NYPD as I walked by. I wonder if NYPD Transport even bothers to ticket the FreshDirect trucks anymore.

"I always feel nervous as I pass the Fresh Direct bins placed right on the edge of the bike lane at this spot," the witness continued.

The site is so frequently blocked by trucks that it's even on Google Street View (see photo atop this story).

And hours after the crash, on Tuesday morning, a Fresh Direct truck driver was again unloading his wares by leaving the truck non-expeditiously parked in the westernmost travel lane, and using the bike lane as a staging area (see photo below):

No respect for the dead ... or the living. Fresh Direct unloading illegally on First Avenue, mere hours after Tuesday's crash.
No respect for the dead ... or the living. Fresh Direct unloading illegally on First Avenue, mere hours after Tuesday's crash.
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It's our December donation drive. Your gift helps us do important stories. So please click here or the icon above.

Navarette-Flores was taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital, where he died. The driver was interviewed, but issued no summonses, police said. The investigation is ongoing. According to Los Deliveristas Unidios, the delivery worker union, Navarette-Flores, whose nickname was "Chavita," or "kid," was with the group. Its spokeswoman said fellow workers are supporting Navarette-Flores's family "during these difficult times." (Donations are accepted here.)

The Department of Transportation issued the following statement.

“Any death on our streets is a tragedy and our thoughts are with the family and friends of Salvador Navarette-Flores," said agency spokesman Vin Barone. "We are reviewing the circumstances of this crash.”

That review will include whether the block's existing loading zone, to the south of the crash site, is sufficient to handle the massive number of deliveries of food and goods that continues to overwhelm many roadways. The existing loading zone is only in effect on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., after which it becomes available for private car storage. The loading zone was not in effect at the time of the crash.

Barone said the city is working to designate more curb space as loading zones, but Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris said it's too little, too late.

“Safety must come first," Harris said in a statement. "With more and more deliveries taking place across New York City, we need the city to fast-track dedicated loading zones, as advanced by Intro 2279, to ensure that delivery operators stop turning our sidewalks, bike lanes, bus lanes, and car lanes into parking and delivery hubs."

Harris then turned his attention to incoming Mayor Eric Adams, who takes office in 17 days. "We look forward to working with Mayor-elect Adams and the next City Council to prioritize the safety of our most vulnerable street users, including essential delivery workers, over the movement and storage of vehicles,” he said.

Thirteen delivery workers have died this year, at least 10 in crashes. The DOT says that 2021 has been the bloodiest year since Mayor de Blasio assumed office on Jan  1, 2014 and quickly launched Vision Zero.

Chart: DOT
Chart: DOT

Someone left a memorial to Navarette-Flores on a bike rack near the crash scene. The illegal unloading is in the background of the photo:

A memorial to crash victim Salvador Navarette-Flores
A memorial to crash victim Salvador Navarette-Flores

NYPD spokesman Sgt. Edward Riley got back to Streetsblog after initial publication of this story. He said the agency would conduct the "72-hour post-collision enforcement plan" that it undertakes after all fatal collisions.

He said the 19th Precinct has issued 54 "hazardous summonses" at the location in question.

"Delivery drivers have been instructed not to block the travel lane," he said, adding that the driver in the Navarette-Flores case could still be issued summonses after the NYPD's investigation is complete. Riley added that it remains unclear what lane the moped rider was using.

Streetsblog asked Fresh Direct to comment on multiple complaints of double-parking, but the company only offered the following legal statement:

"We are deeply saddened about this tragic accident. FreshDirect wishes to extend its sincerest condolences to the family. We are unable to comment further as there is an active police investigation underway, and we are fully cooperating with the local authorities."

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