Six-Year-Old Boy Killed by MTA Tow Truck in Front of His Pregnant Mother

By Nicole Bode | July 30, 2010 11:29am | Updated on July 31, 2010 12:05pm

By Benjamin Fractenberg and Nicole Bode

DNAinfo Staff

EAST HARLEM — A six-year-old boy holding the hand of his pregnant mother as he crossed the street with her near the RFK bridge entrance ramp was struck and killed by an MTA tow truck Friday morning, police said.

The boy, identified by police as Maxmilio Mendez of the Bronx, was walking with his 34-year-old mom, Erika Lorenzo, on the east side of Second Avenue, south of the RFK entrance ramp, when he was hit just after 9 a.m.

He was declared dead at Harlem Hospital soon after he was hit, police said.

"I wouldn't let go of my son for nothing in the world," said the boy's mother, speaking to reporters Friday night. "I will never recover from the death of my son."

Erika Lorenzo, 34, holds up a picture of her son who was hit by an MTA tow truck in East Harlem.
Erika Lorenzo, 34, holds up a picture of her son who was hit by an MTA tow truck in East Harlem.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

She said that Maxmillo had a 4-year-old brother who was devastated to hear that his brother was gone.

"He cried. He kept asking for his brother," Lorenzo said.

She said that Maxmillo was a good kid who liked Spider Man and Power Rangers.

Witnesses said emergency workers had to pull Mendez’s body free from beneath the massive yellow MTA truck. The driver, 39, was tested for alcohol at the scene, and the test was negative, according to the MTA.

The truck was stopped approximately 10 feet from the Second Avenue sidewalk, and a pair of tiny flip flops lay scattered in its wake.

“It didn’t look like he was breathing,” said Sami Aljarado, 36, who lives across the street from the intersection.

Police said the boy's mother was also hit by the truck, but was taken to Harlem Hospital in stable condition. The baby she is carrying was reportedly unharmed.

Witnesses said Lorenzo appeared to have lost consciousness temporarily after the crash, and was sobbing hysterically as emergency crews and passerby worked on her boy.

A witness who works at the Azal deli and grocery on the southwest side of 125th Street at Second Avenue said he watched the mother crying while rescue workers performed CPR. She got into the ambulance to the hospital with her son, he said.

Another witness said a man driving by in a Lexus jumped out and tried to perform CPR on the child before emergency crews arrived.

She returned to their Bronx home about 5:30 p.m., looking distraught and leaning on her husband, Juan Mendez. Police escorted them up to her apartment.

Joyce Mulvaney, a spokeswoman for the MTA Bridges and Tunnels, confirmed that the yellow truck that hit Mendez belonged to the agency, and was a wrecking truck responsible for clearing disabled vehicles off the RFK bridge, formerly known as the Triborough bridge. 

Maxmilliano Mendez, 6, was getting ready to celebrate his seventh birthday on August 13.
Maxmilliano Mendez, 6, was getting ready to celebrate his seventh birthday on August 13.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

The truck was on a call to clear a disabled vehicle on the RFK bridge when the incident occurred, the MTA said in a statement.

Workers at a municipal pool located in the Triboro Plaza park, where the boy and his mother had been walking, said the intersection is very dangerous — especially for kids.

There are multiple ways to approach the RFK bridge entrance ramp, at least one of which is a blind curve with no traffic light, said those familiar with the area.

"There should be a light before you make the turn onto the ramp," said P. Wade, 68, who works for the city's Department of Parks and Recreation.

Wade said she was at the Wagner Pool when the boy was hit and heard people yelling and running to the scene.

"It's really hard to get across there for grownups and kids," said Wade, who lives in Washington Heights.

“This intersection is bad because there is no traffic cop during the day,” added neighbor Edward Simmons, 52, who lives south of the intersection, “I have a two year old and I always hold her hand.”