Seven dead, including 3 kids, after SUV crashes into Bronx Zoo
Seven members of a Bronx family representing three generations, including three young girls, were killed Sunday afternoon when their SUV careened off the Bronx River Parkway, plunging 60 feet and landing upside down in the Bronx Zoo, officials said.
The 2004 Honda Pilot carrying the unidentified family hit the median of the highway at around 12:30 p.m. as it was traveling southbound, police said, and then ricocheted across the highway to the outside guardrail near East 180th Street. The vehicle then went airborne and slammed into the zoo’s transit-storage lot.
"The injuries were quite horrific," Howard Sickles, deputy chief of Emergency Medical Services told reporters at the zoo. "I haven’t seen anything like this in years.”
Police sources said the dead passengers included an 84-year-old man and his 80-year-old wife — both of whom were from the Dominican Republic — and the couple’s daughters, 39 and 45, who lived in the Bronx. The older daughter’s 10-year-old girl was killed in the crash, as were the 39-year-old woman’s two little girls, ages 3 and 5. The 45-year-old was believed to be behind the wheel of the van when it crashed, and all seven were wearing seat belts, according to a police source. All were pronounced dead at the scene, fire and police officials said.
No other zoo guests, employees or animals were injured, though a firefighter searching for the crashed vehicle suffered minor injuries at the site, an FDNY spokesman said.
Officials are unsure how the accident happened, but said there was no indication of a crime. They were on the scene throughout the day Sunday investigating the crash.
Ronald Werner, deputy chief of the Fire Department’s Division 7, said: “It was obvious that the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed.”
The zoo remained open Sunday, though police cordoned off the entrance near East 180th Street. Zoo officials did not comment on the accident.
(with Newsday reporters Emily Ngo and Christian Wade)