FOREST HILLS — A worker laying cones on the Grand Central Parkway was struck and killed Tuesday morning by an allegedly drunken driver, authorities said.
Frank Avino, 63, an electrician with Welsbach Electric Corporation, was part of a team fixing a street light on the parkway at 11 a.m. when a westbound Audi allegedly swerved into the left lane and hit him near Jewel Avenue, sources said.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
"It's terrible," District Attorney Richard Brown said at the scene. "The worker is working out here ...and something like this happened.... This is just so sad."
Al Scotti, 59, a friend who had known Avino for 25 years, described him as a "warm-hearted man, strong in his convictions but very loving."
"He lived for his grandchildren," Scotti added. "They were his life. He was a wonderful man who will be missed."
Coworkers, who wiped away tears as officers removed the victim's body from the scene, described Avino as a Vietnam veteran who had worked as an electrician for at least three decades.
"He's a very nice guy," said Joe Garcia, 43, who has been on the job for 12 years.
Garcia said the accident happened when Avino and his partner were placing cones on the highway to prepare for the day's work.
"It's the most dangerous part of the job, when you're doing the setup and breaking down," Garcia said. "That's when you are most vulnerable. It doesn't matter how experienced you are."
Coworker Stephen Felix, 48, agreed.
"It's a very dangerous job," Felix said. "How can you protect yourself against a drunk driver?"
The Audi's driver, Munshi Abdullah, 26, of Jamaica, Queens, was arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest, police said.
"There's no question that alcohol was involved," Brown said.
Mava Heffler, a vice president at EMCOR Group, Inc., Welsbach Electric's parent company in Connecticut, said she believes Avino was behind a safety barrier when he was struck by the car.
"We are deeply grieved by the death of our employee today," Heffler said in an email. "Our heart goes out to his family."