Thu 22 Jan, 2004 08:16 pm
This article is from the NYTimes
Woman Struck by 3 Hit and Runs, Police Say
By COREY KILGANNON and MICHAEL WILSON
Published: January 21, 2004
The police report Sunday was grim enough: an 18-year-old Queens woman crossing the street had been hit twice by speeding vehicles and killed. Neither of the vehicles had stopped. In its grief, the woman's family said publicly that there was only one way it could have happened - she had been murdered, deliberately run over by the same homicidal driver twice.
Yesterday, the police discounted that theory but in so doing revealed an even more startling series of events: The woman, Natalie Guzman, had been hit not twice, but three times by separate cars, each speeding away after striking her, the drivers either unaware of what they had done or unwilling to stop and help.
In a city where lives can end with lightning randomness and in darkly unpredictable ways - just last week, a woman walking her dogs in the East Village was electrocuted by a metal plate in the street - the death of Ms. Guzman on Roosevelt Avenue near 111th Street gave pause to veteran law enforcement officials and those walking the busy streets of Corona, where Ms. Guzman had lived. Could it possibly be true that three drivers unknowingly struck a human being on an otherwise empty early morning street and then drove away?
"If the Police Department's theory is true, then this would be a level of human callousness and depravity not seen since the Kitty Genovese case," Councilman Eric Gioia of Queens said, referring to the 1964 murder of a Queens woman who was slain as 38 people watched from their windows and did nothing to assist her. "If it was a homicide, it would almost seem less unsettling than the thought that three people mowed someone down and just drove away."
Jose Jiminez, 44, a lumber salesman who works on Roosevelt Avenue in the largely Hispanic neighborhood, also expressed disbelief: "A three-way hit-and-run. Is that possible, even in New York?"
He shook his head as he contemplated it. "I don't think so," he said. "I mean, New Yorkers are cold, but we're not that cold."
The police do not believe that any of the vehicles deliberately struck Ms. Guzman. Their finding that three vehicles ran over the woman stems from an interview with a witness who was found during a canvass of the area on Monday. The police felt confident enough in this one witness's account to publicize the new version of events.
The first car, a black four-door sedan, hit Ms. Guzman as she crossed Roosevelt Avenue at 5:30 a.m. Sunday to buy a bag of potato chips across the street from the pool hall where she had spent the evening, according to the police. The witness told the police that the car could have been a livery cab. Ms. Guzman, the mother of a 15-month-old girl, managed to get up off the pavement one to two minutes after being hit but was then struck by the second car, a white four-door sedan, the police said.
The witness said both cars were traveling 60 to 70 miles per hour down Roosevelt Avenue, a two-way street under the elevated No. 7 train lined with heavy iron stanchions and many traffic lights.
About four minutes after the second impact, a group of Ms. Guzman's friends found her and tried to comfort her as she lay crumpled on the frozen roadbed. At this point, they believed that she had been hit once. She was alive and breathing, they told the police. But then a black sport utility vehicle came racing toward them - at 80 m.p.h., the witness estimated - and struck the woman as her friends dived for safety. She was killed instantly, the police said. Earlier witnesses told the police they believed that the S.U.V.'s headlights were off, but the new witness was unable to confirm that, the police said.
Ms. Guzman's face was so disfigured by the tires of the S.U.V. that city officials suggested her mother send a relative to identify the body. "I'm not going to be able to recognize my own daughter," Ms. Guzman's mother, Miriam Toribio, said yesterday at her home in Corona. Several relatives sat in chairs weeping.
amazing. what was the witness doing just watching?
You're kidding. This witness stood there for seven minutes minimum and watched this woman get hit three times? I do not believe it.
and what was the mother of a 15 month old doing out at a bar until 5:30 am?
Here's the link, if you want to see the original story.
More to it on that page 2 there.
Three hit and runs is truly unbelievable; I can't help wondering if it was murder.
The life that poor woman was living was an open invitation to tragedy.
The second page certainly gives some more information
(Page 2 of 2)
Trevor Foster, 19, a friend of Ms. Guzman, stood yesterday at the scene of the accident. "I can't imagine three cars in a row would've hit her," he said. "I think most people would stop and help. I know I would."
He wrote a message to Ms. Guzman on a candle: "RIP. I know your in a better place." Then he slipped it into a plastic milk crate placed next to a streetlight, a makeshift memorial to Ms. Guzman in front of Los Primos Tournament Billiards, the pool hall she had visited .
A police cruiser was parked nearby. A trailer attached bore an electronic display sign: "Fatal Hit/Run 530AM 01/18 CALL 718 217 3529."
Ernesto Bruno, 56, who owns a pizza shop inside the pool hall, said that late Saturday he had served Ms. Guzman the last three garlic knots he had in the store. "You get hit once, O.K.; twice, it's pretty unbelievable," he said. "But three times, come on. Logically, you almost can't believe it."
On a small table with a white tablecloth in the Guzman family's apartment, there were fresh flowers and a front-page photograph of Ms. Guzman from a tabloid newspaper, and two full baby bottles belonging to Ms. Guzman's daughter, Laritza.
The family said Ms. Guzman was trying to shake her penchant for late-night parties and turn her life around by getting her high school degree, enrolling in college and taking more responsibility as a single mother.
Relatives and friends found the specter of three hit-and-runs unbelievable. They continued to insist yesterday that the young mother was a murder victim. They said Ms. Guzman had told them that she had recently made enemies and was staying inside for fear of getting attacked.
She had recently come home beaten up and with a slight bullet wound on her calf, an attack stemming from a ladies room argument in an after-hours club they said. Ms. Guzman had gone to the local pool hall late Saturday because she felt safe there, playing video games with friends.
"Everyone who knows Natalie knows this is no accident," her mother said. "Maybe one person, you could have a hit-and-run, but for two or even three people to hit her and not stop? No, these people came to kill my daughter, and that's it."
We should have more on this in the next day or so. The police have what they believe to be one of the cars involved.