THE BRONX — Police charged a box-truck driver who fatally hit a Botanical Garden employee riding her bike to work, the NYPD said.
Robert Owens, 45, hit Heather Lough, 29, as she was riding across Southern Boulevard April 27 about 8:50 a.m., police said. He was charged last week.
Owens was exiting the gardens and driving north in his Harvester box truck when he struck Lough, the NYPD said.
"I was exiting the Botanical Garden, making a left turn with a green traffic signal," he told NYPD Officer Michael Murphy, according to court papers. "I looked to my right to make sure no one was running the red light. In my completion of my left turn, I hit the woman as I turned with the front of the vehicle."
Owens said he then ran to the back of the truck and saw Lough lying between the back two wheels.
She was taken to Jacobi Hospital, where she died Monday.
Lough's close friend Jackie Shay started a Youcaring.com account in hopes of raising money to send Lough's body back to Goldendale, Wash., to be laid to rest. Their target was $10,000, but the fund has received nearly $19,000 in donations.
"She loved the planet and loved people more than anyone I've known," says the Youcaring.com, which is signed "Her Loved Ones." "She was was considerate, empathetic and so (incredibly) strong willed. She was a fire that burned so bright."
Lough, who was married, dreamed of becoming a scientist and an artist, according to the post.
"The New York Botanical Garden is deeply saddened by the untimely passing of our colleague, Heather Lough, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to her family," Melinda Manning, the garden's vice president for communications, said in a statement.
Owens, of Harlem, was charged with reckless driving and failure to yield to a bicyclist, police said.
He was released without bail at his arraignment and is due back in court June 27, according to court documents. His lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.