Holden concerned about safety in Maspeth after two truckers die within hours on Grand Avenue

Councilman Robert Holden mourned the loss of two truckers who were killed on the same day along Grand Avenue in Maspeth. (Photo courtesy of Council Member Holden)

Generations of Maspeth residents have rallied against the inordinate volume of truck traffic transiting their neighborhood between the Long Island Expressway and the warehouse district to the south toward Newtown Creek. Protestors have complained of air and noise pollution, safety concerns with seniors and children trying to cross busy streets, and the lack of enforcement against reckless tractor-trailer drivers, especially along Grand Avenue where nearly 1,000 trucks a day use the roadway.

Councilman Robert Holden is all too familiar with the issues having led rallies as the longtime president of the powerful Juniper Park Civic Association and member of Community Board 5. But the events of Wednesday, Nov. 9, flipped the script for Holden after two truck drivers were killed just hours apart.

Chad Hallenbeck, 49, of East Durham in upstate Greene County, had parked his rig in front of 56-05 Grand Ave. before 3 a.m., and he had just stepped out of his cab when he was struck by a 43-year-old motorist. The motorist had lost control of the 2007 Chevy sedan she was driving westbound on Grand Avenue when she crossed over the double yellow line into the eastbound travel lane and stuck Hallenbeck, before plowing his parked and unoccupied tractor-trailer, police said. EMS responded and declared him dead at the scene.

(Photo courtesy of Holden)

Hours later, 50-year-old Roy Bennington of Pennsylvania was behind the wheel of the 2023 Freightliner truck traveling southbound on Grand Avenue when he lost control of the tractor-trailer and mounted the sidewalk before smashing into a cement pillar and street light. EMS responded to the scene and rushed the trucker to Elmhurst Hospital Center, where he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead, police said. Investigators believe Bennington suffered a medical incident prior to the collision.

Holden rushed to the intersection afterward to survey the wreckage and he spoke of his concern for the truckers who died and their families.

“I extend my condolences to the families of the two individuals who died in Maspeth on [Nov. 9],” Holden said. “Any traffic death is one too many and the city must do more to prevent tragedies like this from occurring.”