By Bill Parry
The Corona community is rallying around a family who lost their father early Sunday morning after he was struck and killed by an unlicensed and drunk driver in Sunnyside, police say.
Gelacio Reyes, a 32-year old married father of three was cycling home from work in Manhattan around 3 a.m., heading east on 43rd Avenue at 39th Street when a southbound red 2002 Ford Escape crashed into him and fled the scene, according to the NYPD.
Police from the 108th Precinct found Reyes lying on the roadway with trauma to his body. Reyes was rushed to Elmhurst Hospital Center where he was pronounced dead.
Woodside resident Cristian Guiracocha, 25, was arrested hours later near an auto body shop, texting inside the vehicle with vomit on his pants and police smelled alcohol on his breath, according to the criminal complaint. His vehicle, parked in front of Brian’s Auto Shop at 51-04 58th Place in Woodside, had extensive damage to the front end and the passenger side mirror was missing,
Guiracocha was taken to the 112th Precinct in Forest Hills, where the unit that conducts testing on intoxicated drivers is located. There he refused to take a Breathalyzer test, police said.
Records show Guiracocha, a resident of 59th Street in Woodside had his driver’s license revoked at least twice before, most recently on Jan. 28, 2014, according to the criminal complaint. He is charged with driving under the influence, aggravated unlicensed driving and refusal to take a breath test.
Guiracocha was released on $100,000 bail and is due back in court April 14.
“This is a terrible tragedy,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. “This reckless driver stole a hardworking man’s life and placed incredible emotional and financial hardship on this family. And worse, rather than take responsibility for his actions, the driver fled the scene, leaving this man on the street to die in an act of shameful cowardice. And while the driver was eventually arrested by the NYPD, far too many drivers who flee the scene of a crash are not caught. In 2014, I sponsored the Justice for Hit and Run Victims Act to impose tougher penalties on drivers who flee the scene of a crash, and I will continue working to deter dangerous hit-and-runs like this.”
Meanwhile, Reyes’ wife Flor Jiminez has started a GoFundMe page to raise money to help the family bury him in his home-country of Mexico.
“He was the main support for my family and leaves with two boys and a newborn baby girl,” she wrote. “I want to thank everyone who can help me raise money to cover the funeral costs,” she wrote.
The PTA at PS 143, where his two sons attend school, will be collecting money to help and Catholic Charities has agreed to provide the family with $1,200 for burial expenses. The Mexican Consulate is also assisting the family.
“I was very saddened to hear about the death of Gelacio Reyes, a constituent from Corona and a father of three,” state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst)) said. “This was very tragic. I want to thank the local authorities for arresting the motorist who fled the scene after striking Mr. Reyes as he was pedaling his bike coming home from work. In this very painful time for his family, the community came together to assist with funeral arrangements so the family can bury him in his native Mexico.”
Donations can be sent to the page at www.gofun
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr