Brooklyn DA Charges Reckless Backhoe Driver, Foreman for Killing Senior Pedestrian

Here's the moment of impact when Luis Zuniga allegedly killed Estelle Davis.
Here's the moment of impact when Luis Zuniga allegedly killed Estelle Davis.

The construction worker who backed over and killed a 61-year-old woman last year in Brooklyn — as well as the foreman at his jobsite — have been charged in the death.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced on Friday that he had slapped backhoe driver Luis Enrique Zuniga, 37, and foreman Justin Ostrowski, 34, both of Mineola, with second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and second-degree reckless endangerment. Zuniga also was charged with leaving the scene of a crash and reckless driving.

The initial NYPD report of the March 5 broad daylight crash did not even mention that victim Estelle Davis had been run over, instead saying that she had been found near the intersection of New Lots and Van Sinderen avenues “unconscious and unresponsive with trauma to her body.”

But subsequent reporting by local papers, including the Daily News and the Post, revealed that Davis had, in fact, been run over by the construction worker as he backed up into the roadway. The Daily News had horrific video that showed Zuniga’s recklessness.

That video likely played a role in Gonzalez’s decision to indict. In a statement, the DA said that video and other surveillance footage showed that Zuniga drove his backhoe “onto and off the sidewalk for about 20 minutes, narrowly missing several pedestrians and at least one vehicle.”

At around 2:20 p.m., as Davis is crossing at a crosswalk, Zuniga glanced over his shoulder “very quickly” before reversing into the intersection and striking the senior, a home health car eaide on her way to work. Davis was knocked to the ground and then run over twice. She died an hour later.

Gonzalez charged the foreman as well because insufficient safety precautions were taken.

“Unlike [another] work site one block away, which was cordoned off with orange cones, had orange and white bars connecting the cones, as well as flaggers and other required safety measures, the second site, where the incident took place, had none of those safeguards,” Gonzalez’s statement said. “Further, the work permit at that location included several NYC Department of Transportation safety stipulations, such as barriers and a protected pedestrian walkway, none of which were installed at the time of the incident.”

If found guilty on the top charge, Zuniga and Ostrowski could go to jail for 15 years. They’re free for now, pending an April 5 court date.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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