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Friends of UES Woman Killed By Dump Truck Demand More Street Safety

By Shaye Weaver | March 23, 2016 1:55pm
 Friends and neighbors of Jodi McGrath, who was killed by a garbage truck on March 15, held a candlelight vigil on Tuesday night.
A candlelight vigil was held for Jodi McGrath on Tuesday
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YORKVILLE — The Holmes Towers community doesn't want the death of one of their own to be in vain.

Neighbors and friends of 55-year-old Jodi McGrath, who was fatally struck by a garbage truck on First Avenue across the street from her home, and activist group Pledge 2 Protect, organized a vigil on Tuesday to demand that the city halt its plans to open a new marine transfer station in the neighborhood.

They say that McGrath's death confirmed their fears that once the station opens in 2017, it would threaten the lives of even more pedestrians as hundreds of trucks travel to and from the hub.

"This is what we've been talking about for years about," said Milagros Velasquez, the vice president of the Holmes Towers Tenants Association. "She didn't hold a chance against the truck."

McGrath was crossing westbound on First Avenue at 92nd Street at 4:30 a.m. on March 15, when the truck hit her as it was making a left-hand turn, according to police.

Authorities said on Wednesday that the investigation is still ongoing, and could not identify which company the truck belonged to. The truck driver stayed on the scene and has not been charged.

A total of 16 people were hurt in accidents at the intersection of 92nd and First Avenue — seven of those injured were pedestrians — since 2009, when the city's Vision Zero street safety initiative began, according to city data. 

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Councilman Ben Kallos, who both showed up to the vigil, spoke against the marine transfer station, saying it would only worsen the situation.

"People in the community pass on, but it should not happen because of bad public policy," Brewer said about the marine transfer station.

"The tragedy of all of this is that it won't be one private garbage truck, but hundreds an hour, driving through the side streets of the neighborhood, where they don't belong," Kallos added. "How many more deaths will it take? We need to make sure Jodi McGrath is the last person this happens to."

McGrath's friend Lynn Santo, who has lived in the towers for eight years, said she's worried for the children who cross the street and that once the marine transfer station opens, it could be even more deadly.

"I think maybe her death could bring about more safety," she said.

McGrath's friends described her as charismatic, with a good heart, and someone who danced to the beat of her own drum.

"She was a good person who didn't deserve this," said Velasquez, a good friend who has known her for more than a decade. "She was a fixture in our community and looked out for everybody's kids."

McGrath, who lived at the Holmes Towers for more than 25 years, would go out each morning to get her coffee and sit in the development's lobby and watch the kids go off to school, her friends say.

She didn't have much in the way of family, so her friends at the Holmes Towers and at the senior program at the Isaacs Center became her loved ones, according to Velasquez.

"She wasn't alone," Velasquez said. "She had the community behind her whether she knew it or not."