Driver Sues City In Bridge Exit Crash
A 39-year-old motorist whose left arm was severed when he drove his Volkswagen Jetta off a Queensboro Bridge exit ramp in April last week filed a lawsuit charging the city with negligence.
Alexander Palacio was behind the wheel of the Volkswagen when it veered out of control on the ramp and slammed into a row of storefronts at Bridge Plaza South and Crescent Street.
A 40-year-old mother of two was killed in the horrific crash that echoed an almost identical accident at the same site on March 29. That crash claimed the life of a pedestrian.
Beatriz Rodriguez was a passenger in Palacio’s 2006 Volkswagen Jetta when the car jumped a curb as it sped off the bridge exit ramp, slamming into two storefronts.
The Volkswagen hit a guardrail near the end of the outer-lane exit ramp and flew across the street – coming to a stop inside a salon that was heavily damaged from the March 29 crash.
A 2007 Volkswagen Rabbit flew off the exit ramp at about 4 a.m. on March 29, killing a Queens cabbie on his way to work severing that driver’s arm.
Palacio’s left arm was severed in the crash and Rodriguez suffered grave head injuries that claimed her life on April 7.
In the lawsuit, filed in Queens Supreme Court, Palacio accuses the city of negligence for altering the exit ramp to make space for pedestrians and bicyclists. The suit also charges that the city knew the exit ramp that feeds into the heavily trafficked Bridge Plaza South was dangerous, but did nothing to correct the condition.
City officials said police believed Palacio was traveling at a high rate of speed as he exited the bridge. Officials also said the off-ramp has not undergone any changes since 2007.
The two storefronts damaged in the August 9 crash each filed a “Notice of Claim” against the city earlier this year.
An attorney for the storefronts said Palacio might also be named in their lawsuits because police believe he was speeding – and he was driving without a license at the time of the crash.
Local legislators gathered at the site last summer, calling on the city Department of Transportation (DOT) to lower the speed limit and install increased safety measures on the exit ramp.
DOT officials said workers installed new signs on April 7, reminding motorists of the 30mph speed limit on the bridge and the 20mph speed limit on the exit ramps. Workers also installed “rumble strips” and a speed board on the exit ramp that tells motorists how fast they are driving, officials said.
City attorneys refused comment on the lawsuits.