By Ryan Tracy and Dan Lieberman
Word that four year-old Joshua Delarosa was still alive came as good news Tuesday to folks familiar with the intersection at 230th Street and Broadway, but news of another accident in the area was no surprise.
Yolanda Ellerbe, 43, stood near the site of the accident that left Delarosa in critical condition at New York Presbyterian Hospital Columbia Monday as a pair of crossing guards in reflective vests tried, often in vein, to hold off drivers cutting through the crosswalks. Ellerbe called the intersection “terrible.”
Between 1995 and 2005, 19 crashes occurred at the location, according to crashstat.org, a website run by pedestrian advocacy group Transportation Alternatives. There were two pedestrian injuries at the same intersection last year, according to the city Department of Transportation. Another injury occurred there in 2007, but none were reported in 2008 and 2009.
In 2005, a man in a wheelchair was killed after an SUV hit him at the intersection and dragged him 50 yards. Another pedestrian was killed at the same intersection in 1999, according to crashstat.org.
“There’s too many schools around here, they need to do something about the (traffic) lights,” said Ellerbe, who worked with Delarosa’s family at a Head Start Program in the Marble Hill public housing buildings next to the intersection. Delarosa’s mother, Romula Fernandez, was walking him to day care on Monday morning when a swerving livery cab knocked over a nearby traffic sign. The sign fell and hit the child.
Other observers echoed Ellerbe’s concerns about safety.
“This street, the cars, they running fast,” said Jose Avelar, who can see the intersection from his nearby barber shop. “There’s something every week.”
After the crash, a nearby crossing guard lifted a traffic sign off Delarosa’s body. The driver of the cab, who turned to avoid a city Department of Environmental Protection truck “could have run over (Delarosa). He could have crushed him,” said the crossing guard, who asked to remain anonymous because she was not supposed to speak with the media.
The crossing guard, who has been working with the New York Police Department for 11 years, said she was nearly hit by the sign. Her navy raincoat still had yellow stains on the sleeve from the spot where a street sign had fallen against it. She quickly grabbed the heavy sign and surprised even herself with her strength.
“I’m still amazed I did that,” she recalled.
As rain fell, cars, buses and trucks rolled through from five directions. Schoolchildren, mothers with strollers, people in wheelchairs and dozens of pedestrians walked from side to side, hiding behind steel pillars as vehicles rushed by and a subway train rumbled overhead.
Delarosa’s mother was also injured in the accident, but was discharged from the St. Barnabus Medical Center emergency room Tuesday, said a hospital spokesman.
Ellerbe said she had spoken to Delarosa’ mother Tuesday afternoon and she had reported Delarosa was “doing a little better.” Ellerbe’s colleagues at Little Angels Head Start expect Delarosa to attend pre-school there this fall.
Last year, the mother had regularly dropped off his older sister at the center, and it was clear young Joshua wanted to go to school too. “He would come in in the morning and go right in the classroom and sit in the chair immediately,” Ellerbe remembered.
Despite statistics showing accidents in the Bronx have decreased since 2001, “There are still too many accidents caused by driver inattention, speeding, and failing to yield to pedestrians and too many motorists speed away from crash scenes,” said DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow.