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Inwood Hit-and-Run Victim Speaks Out on Why Seaman Ave. Needs Safety Boost

 Edwin Montano, 51, who his hit by a speeding car while crossing Seaman Avenue and Payson Avenue on May 21, said he just wants to ensure others aren't injured or killed on the dangerous crosswalk.
Edwin Montano, 51, who his hit by a speeding car while crossing Seaman Avenue and Payson Avenue on May 21, said he just wants to ensure others aren't injured or killed on the dangerous crosswalk.
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Teresa Montano

INWOOD — Edwin Montano's body is sore and nursing a headache where doctors removed 20 staples from the right-hand side of his skull.

Montano, a 51-year-old investigator for the Legal Aid Society who is well known in the community for his work and for his volunteering as a little league coach, doesn't remember much about the hit-and-run crash on May 21 that left him hospitalized until last week.

The last thing he remembers was parking his car near Seaman Avenue at Payson Avenue at approximately 9:50 p.m. that night on his way home from work and walking into the crosswalk.

“I looked real quick before I crossed the street and next thing I know when I’m in the middle of the street. I see the lights coming at me,” said the 51-year-old father of three, who is now recovering at home and is unable to work due to piercing headaches and pain in his ribcage.

Montano said witnesses later told him and police that he was hit and flew a few feet in the air before landing on his neck. He sustained a head wound that took 20 stitches to close, as well as neck and back injuries and a chipped bone in his right shoulder and another on his vertebrae.

Doctors told Montano, who stands 6-feet tall and weighs 250 pounds, that it was a miracle he didn't sustain worse injuries.

“Doctors said if it would’ve been a child or someone thinner, they wouldn’t have been able to survive,” Montano said.

Amy Cahill, who was walking along Seaman Avenue with her boyfriend the night of the incident, said the hit-and-run driver was driving “dangerously” around 204th Street before the crash.

“When [the car] passed us, I just told my boyfriend, ‘He just went by a red light, what’s that about?’” Cahill said. “He was going so fast that when I heard a hit sound, I assumed he hit another car... that was my first thought. I didn’t realize someone had been hit until we saw people screaming.”

Cahill said in the 30 seconds it took for her to reach where Montano had landed, a dozen people had reached him as well and called police.

“There was blood coming from the side of his head and down the street and he seemed to be in shock,” Cahill said, adding that residents urged Montano to remain still and wait for help to arrive. “He eyes were still open, but you could tell he didn’t really know what was going on. He was holding on to people’s hands and trying to get up.”

That was when Montano’s son, Diogenes, 25, also arrived and found his father on the side of the street.

“I was shocked,” he told DNAinfo with his head down, holding back tears. “I couldn’t believe he was laying out in the ground and to see all the blood coming out.”

Police identified the vehicle as a Ford Taurus, but no arrests have been made in connection to the crash. Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Seaman Avenue corridor from Broadway to Dyckman Street has been a concern for residents for years — specifically with cars that pour into and out of the blind curve as they rush to get on and off the Henry Hudson Highway.

There have been 67 people hurt in crashes along the corridor since 2009, seven of them at the intersection where Montano was hit, according to the city's Vision Zero map, which is current as of April and does not reflect Montano's crash yet.

"Many people have said that's not a great corner, because there's no stop sign there and people will just turn and not watch for anyone," Cahill said. 

Last spring, a local Girl Scouts group canvassed the neighborhood collecting signatures to urge the Department of Transportation to add red blinking lights and rumble strips along Seaman Avenue.

The family has also been requesting for more support from police, but said they're become frustrated with the pace of the investigation. Montano's wife, Teresa, said she has gone as far as to contact Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who agreed to meet with the family in the coming days.

Rodriguez earlier this year proposed and was pushing for several hit-and-run bills, in the wake of several hit-and-run accidents. His chief of staff, Jose Louis Espiritusanto, said the Councilman "STILL pushing" for the bills, but couldn't provide an update on the status.   

“We want people to slow down on Seaman Avenue,” Montano said. “It’s not just me. We definitely don’t want it to happen to anyone else.”