The area in which the vehicle landed was non-public property owned by the zoo. The car had plunged over 50-feet into a ravine and landed in a wooded area, there were no survivors of the crash.
According to NY1
, the accident occurred around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. Police said 45-year-old Maria Gonzalez was driving the 2004 Honda Pilot in a southbound lane when the car crossed all the southbound lanes and went over the railing.
"The driver in the left lane struck the barrier on the left-hand side, and in reaction to striking the barrier was either forced over or made a turn that caused the vehicle to go severely to the right and then fall over the side, into the well, you might say," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said, reported NY1.
Gonzalez was killed, along with her 10-year-old daughter, her sister, two nieces aged 7 and 5 (some report one niece was 3 years), and her parents. It was reported Gonzalez' parents had just arrived in N.Y. from the Dominican Republic to attend a family event.
The family is struggling to cope in the aftermath of the tragic accident. The previous day, the family had celebrated a joyous event
"She started working at Fordham University full-time not too long ago to provide for my schooling," son Jonel Gonzalez said of his mother. "She was a mother of three, a great wife. My sister went to St. Raymond's elementary and her communion was this Saturday."
Police are still investigating the cause of the accident, but it was reported all victims were wearing seat belts. No one on the Bronx Zoo property was injured, nor were any animals in the vicinity of the crash scene. Speed may have been an issue (one report noted 70 mph) and also the height of the railing was noted as a potential factor in the tragedy.
"I've been in the Fire Department 30 years, and sometimes you come upon events that are horrific, and this was one of them," Deputy Chief Ron Werner told NBC News
. "When you see young kids that have been hurt or injured or lose their life, it's always harder than if you find someone of an older age."
Gonzalez is survived by two sons and her husband. The husband of Gonzalez' sister lost his entire family.
The location where the accident occurred has seen previous crashes. The Daily News
reported this point of the highway has been described as "The Bermuda Triangle."
“I think it would be fair to say that this is the Bermuda Triangle of the Bronx River Parkway,” attorney Eric Buckvar said. Buckvar had been involved in a lawsuit suing the city and state after six people died in a terrible 2006 crash. Reportedly, several other crashes have occurred at this specific point on the highway and authorities have been considering ways to improve upon the roadway.
“For the second time in a year, an accident on the Bronx River Parkway has led to a car falling off the highway to the streets below,” Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz said in a statement (courtesy N.Y. Daily News).
“In the coming weeks, my office will reach out to the appropriate agencies to examine the safety issues on the Bronx River Parkway and to discuss potential solutions.”