Ron’s eyes welled when he told of how he saw the boy die, and now he – as well as others – are wondering why the Department of Transportation (DOT) is turning a blind eye to the illegal truck traffic that plagues the area.
It was on Monday, August 2 that 13-year-old Frederich Endrem was struck and killed by an 18-wheeler gas truck at Fresh Pond Road and Eliot Avenue.
“Both the boy and the truck had the red light,” explained Ron, who works at the Citgo station and said he saw the whole incident. “Two cars made the turn before the 18-wheeler; he must have thought the truck was going straight and was in the intersection. The point of impact was the first wheel well.
“He got crushed by the back wheels.”
But Ron said that the driver, who remained on the scene and was issued three summonses, two for equipment violations and one for operating off truck route, was not at fault.
“A woman told the driver to stop – he didn’t know,” Ron told The Courier. “The family said he did everything they taught him.”
“This corner is really bad,” said Gary Kress, who lives and works in the area. “There are trucks up and down all day, it’s endless.”
The DOT confirmed that Fresh Pond Road is a local truck route, but Eliot Avenue is not.
“It’s if they’re making local deliveries, to get them on certain roads and get access to certain roads throughout the city,” said Montgomery Dean, DOT spokesperson.
“There should be signs posted,” said Ron, who noted that he often sees officers of the 104th Precinct ticketing illegal trucks on Eliot Avenue.
And City Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley’s office “has been addressing [the problem] with numerous formal complaints to the DOT.”
“We continue to call attention to the traffic issues in our community,” said Meredith Burak, spokesperson. “The DOT hasn’t adequately addressed the serious traffic issues.”
Gary Giordano, District Manager of Community Board 5, told The Courier, “New York is overwhelmingly dependent upon trucks to deliver goods, and too often, these trucks are very large. The truckers sometimes don’t know their way through the neighborhood, and it creates dangerous conditions, because, especially in older portions of the city, like western Queens, the roadways are narrow.”
Noting that enforcement is only part of the answer, especially considering a reduced police force, Giordano continued, “The DOT has turned a blind eye.”
THE COURIER/Photo by Tony Ringston
A memorial for 13-year-old Frederich Endrem stands at the corner of Fresh Pond Road and Eliot Avenue, as his death drew attention to the problem of illegal truck traffic in the area.