By Bill Parry
An early morning crash at a notorious spot in Queens Plaza South claimed the life of an off-duty police officer early Tuesday morning, according to the NYPD.
Officer Elisa Toro, a 10-year veteran and divorced mother of two, worked out of the 17th Precinct in Manhattan. Toro, who was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, was a resident of the Bronx.
She was heading to Queens about 2 a.m. when her silver Ford Focus struck a guard rail on the exit ramp of the Ed Koch/Queensboro Bridge, causing her to lose control of the car, NYPD said. The car flipped over a concrete barrier and went airborne before flying into the side of the vacant Villa De Beaute salon storefront near Crescent Street, the same location of two other deadly crashes just two years ago.
A driver flew off the same exit ramp, killing a pedestrian on March 28, 2011. The driver, Grant Ridell, lost an arm in the crash. He was indicted on charges of vehicular manslaughter, drunken driving, criminally negligent homicide and vehicular assault and refused to take a plea deal.
Less than two weeks later, on April 6, 2011, Alexander Palacio, 36, lost control of his Volkswagen Jetta on the same ramp before crashing into the same store front. His passenger ended up dying in the accident and in an eery repeat, Palacio also lost an arm.
In the aftermath of the deadly crashes, Long Island City officials called on the city DOT to investigate the traffic pattern on the bridge’s off-ramp. The DOT responded that the traffic pattern had not essentially changed and that the drivers were at fault.
In a statement issued Tuesday morning, state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said he was disappointed that his calls for a redesign of the exit ramp were ignored and that DOT only added additional signage and minimal barriers.
“How many more people have to die before the DOT understands that the Queensboro Bridge exit ramp must be redesigned?” said Gianaris, “The city has known that this area is in dire need of traffic safety improvements for years, and the DOT has simply not done enough. I renew my call for a complete redesign off the bridge off-ramp and implore the city to take swift action before another tragedy occurs.”