2009-02-18 / Front Page

Sad Farewell For 26-Year-Old Corona Drag Victim

By Liz Goff

Sad Farewell For 26-Year-Old Corona Drag Victim

 

Family and well wishers packed a Corona funeral home last weekend in a sad farewell to a young man who was killed in a gruesome accident on February 11.


Guido Salvador Carabajo-Jara, 26, was struck by an SUV as he ran across 108th Street and 51st Avenue at about 6 a.m. on February 11, police said.


The driver, Gustavo Acosta, who police said had a green light, slammed on his brakes and tried to swerve the Ford Expedition to avoid Carabajo-Jara, but the SUV hit the construction worker, knocking him to the ground and running over him with a rear wheel. Acosta, who pulled over and dialed 911, later told police he looked back after making the call but the body was gone.


Police said the body had been impaled on a metal skid plate on the underside of a Chevy cargo van driven by Manuel Sanchez, 52. Sanchez told police he was driving two cars behind the SUV when it struck Carabajo-Jara. A surveillance video showed Sanchez jump out of the van a few blocks from the accident, where he walked around, checked the van and drove away. Police said the victim was about 5 feet 4 inches tall and was hidden from view when Sanchez checked the van.


Sanchez told police he didn’t feel the body and did not hear anything as he headed for Brooklyn which was miles from the accident scene. Sanchez said he thought he had hit a pothole because the van wasn’t driving properly.  Sanchez later told police he traveled along the Grand Central Parkway, the Van Wyck Expressway and the Belt Parkway without realizing the body was stuck beneath the van. “All the while, he is being signaled by other drivers that he’s dragging something,” police officials said.


Sanchez said at some point he thought he smelled something burning, so he pulled the van over to the side of the road and checked under the hood. He continued his drive after finding nothing was wrong with the engine, police said.


Sanchez stopped again at Brighton 10th Terrace in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn after horrified pedestrians began pointing to the bottom of the van, police said. He made the gory discovery nearly one hour after the Queens accident.


Police determined the death was accidental, leaving family members enraged and looking for answers. “How is it possible that no one is responsible for this?” said a cousin who paced back and forth outside the Rivera Funeral Home in Corona. “It’s not fair.”


Relatives inside the funeral home thanked the hundreds of well-wishers for their thoughts and prayers, describing the outpouring by strangers as amazing. Carabajo-Jara’s body was shipped back to his native Ecuador on February 17 for burial in his home town, relatives said.


Police said both Acosta and Sanchez have clean driving records. Neither driver was charged in the accident.


The family is accepting donations for Carabajo-Jara’s 4-year-old daughter, Erica, who lives in Ecuador with her mother, Sonia Solorzano.  For information about donations contact the Bank of America.
 

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