JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A Jersey City family was mourning a life taken too soon Friday, after an 11-year-old boy was struck by a jitney bus in Jersey City and later died.
The driver who was allegedly involved in the incident has been arrested and charged.
As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, George Gonzalez was walking to school when he was struck trying to cross busy Kennedy Boulevard near Neptune Avenue around 8:30 a.m. Friday.
“It was like a big smack, it’s not like a car hit, it was a weird hit. You could feel it in your gut that it just wasn’t right,” said nearby resident Mark Mitchell, who then saw the boy badly hurt on the ground. “He was bleeding from the head, his lips was purple, his face was pale, his hands turned a black and blue.”
Mitchell said the boy’s mother arrived moments later and started screaming when she realized her boy had been hit.
“She started yelling at the cops to do something, but they were trying to explain to her we can’t touch him, but he was there for a while,” Mitchell said.
Gonzalez was rushed to Jersey City Medical Center, where he later died.
Mitchell said the boy and the bus driver apparently didn’t see each other because a delivery truck was in the way.
“He was trying to come around the Snapple truck, that little boy didn’t see him,” Mitchell said, adding that he wouldn’t be surprised if the driver had been going over the 25 mph speed limit. “They always go fast, but I think he was trying to go fast trying to get around a Snapple truck.”
On Friday afternoon, his family was asking how many accidents have to happen before the traffic slows down.
George used to walk his dog every day after school on the block where neighbors were mourning his death Friday. They spent the afternoon remembering his magnetic personality.
Christy Gonzalez remembered the sight of her nephew after he was struck and lay bleeding.
“His mouth was just blue when I saw him there,” she said.
The sixth grader was running late when he was struck. He had already left home, but turned back to get his football jersey – he had a game after school.
“He forgot his jersey,” said the boy’s uncle, Nelson Rodriguez. “He gave us a call to bring his jersey down.”
George’s family said the was crossing the street like he does every day when the bus hit him and dragged his body across the intersection.
“He died from head trauma,” Rodriguez said. “His brain was detached from his skull.”
The van was not marked with a company name. CBS2 called the phone number on its side, but it only connected with a number at the New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs.
Neighbors and family members agreed the jitney vans on the block have a speeding problem.
“Eleven years old going to school because these people are rushing for a dollar 75 — are you serious?” Christy Gonzalez said.
“It doesn’t matter where we are,” said neighbor Martha Melendez. “The cars don’t care; they really don’t.”
“These guys, you gotta let kids have the right of way, these guys like to rush and kids they don’t know what they’re doing,” said neighbor Vichna Distant.
George was remembered as a loving brother sand student athlete. To family, he was “Turtle.
“When he was little, he would stick his neck out and we just stuck with that name,” Christy Gonzalez said.
The driver of the bus, which was marked Port Authority, remained on the scene. The driver, Raul Delatorre-Galaza, was later charged with causing a death while driving on a suspended license, police said.
Witnesses said the driver was upset as he was led away in handcuffs, 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported.
Delatorre-Galaza’s bail was set at $50,000 cash and he was being held late Friday at the Hudson County Correctional Center. He was also issued a ticket for driving on a suspended license, and has had multiple license suspensions in the past, police told 1010 WINS.