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By Sarina Trangle

A 69-year-old Glendale man died after a van backing out of a driveway in Maspeth struck him last week, police said.

The Police Department said a 2008 Ford Econoline knocked Edward Popek, 69, to the pavement, near 72-40 60th Lane, around 10:45 p.m. March 6.The rear wheel on the driver’s side of the vehicle then rolled over Popek, the NYPD said.

Officers at the scene said the victim was unresponsive. He was rushed to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The city’s medical examiner concluded Popek died of blunt force trauma to the head and torso. Staff at the medical examiner’s office said the death was ruled an accident.

Officers issued the 25-year-old man driving the van a summons for unsafe backing. Police said he passed a sobriety test and possessed a valid driver’s license.

Some neighbors near the accident said they had witnessed many crashes because cars often speed around the bend from where 60th Lane and 61st Road meet.

But this was the first fatal collision Hector and Leticia Bruno could remember.

The couple said they had just fallen asleep when sirens sounded. The victim’s body was no longer in the street, but their neighborhood was flooded with firefighters, detectives and other emergency personnel.

“We saw the Fire Department actually spraying away the blood, washing it off the street,” Hector Bruno said.

In his dozen years on the block, Bruno said he saw two to three accidents a year near 72-40 60th Lane.

He approached Community Board 5 about turning 60th Lane into a one-way street or installing speed bumps nearby about two years ago. But Bruno said the proposal never went anywhere.

“In the summertime, all the kids are out here playing and you’ll hear the breaks screeching when the cars come by,” he said. “It’s very dangerous.”

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at strangle@cnglocal.com.

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