Uber Driver Killed by Own SUV Remembered as Hardworking Father

By Rosa Goldensohn and Gustavo Solis  on June 13, 2014 11:31am

 Jose Osorio with his daughter Yesika, during his last visit to Colombia in 2010.
Jose Osorio with his daughter Yesika, during his last visit to Colombia in 2010.
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Yesika Osorio Fernández

WOODSIDE — The Uber driver who was struck and killed by his own car in a freak accident last week was a quiet, hardworking father who drove a livery cab six days a week to send money to his daughter in Colombia, friends and relatives said.

Jose Osorio, 58, of Woodside, will be mourned at a wake in Brooklyn on Saturday, before a funeral in his native Bogota. 

"He was a noble man and a gentle person," Yesika Osorio Fernández, Osorio's daughter, said in Spanish. "He was a solitary man."

Osorio died June 5 after he was hit by his own SUV as he tried to stop it from rolling backwards on a busy Midtown street.

He had stopped the car on Madison Avenue near East 49th Street to pick up a passenger, but as he got out he noticed the vehicle was still moving in reverse, so he started to climb back into the driver's seat to hit the brakes, police said.

But Osorio accidentally hit the gas and the SUV jumped backward, pinning him against a van and sending him into cardiac arrest, police said. He was pronounced dead at New York-Presbyterian hospital.

Osorio was not picking up an Uber hail at the time of his death, the company said in a statement.

The accident was a horrific end to Osorio's life of hard work, said those who knew him.

As a teenager growing up in Colombia, Osorio started working on cruise ships, and that's how he saw New York City for the first time.

"He fell in love with New York," his daughter said.

Since moving to the city in the mid-'90s, he returned to Colombia only twice — to surprise his daughter for her high school graduation, and again in 2010.

He became a citizen three years ago, according to Fernández, who added that her father was "very proud" to have an American passport. 

"It is very sad that he fought so much for a passport he never got to use," she said.

Fernández said that despite the distance, her father was devoted to her, helping her pay for a college degree in biology and calling her almost every day. 

"He supported me in every way a father can support his daughter,” she said.

Fellow livery drivers described Osorio as a humble, diligent man who spoke with other Spanish-speaking drivers.

“He worked very hard," said Carlos Sarmiento, Osorio's friend, who is also originally from Colombia and lives in Queens. "He didn't drink or smoke. He only rested on Sundays.”

Uber said they sent their "deepest condolences" to Osorio's family.

"We are saddened by the tragic loss of our valued partner," Josh Mohrer, Uber general manager in New York, said in a statement. 

The New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers donated funds to Osorio's family to help pay for funeral expenses, a spokesman said.

Osorio's wake will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on June 14 at Las Rosas Funeral Home at 761 Fourth Ave. in Brooklyn. Osorio's remains will be cremated and flown back to Bogota for a funeral.

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