NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A woman who worked for a company that transports disabled people died after being run over by her own van while unloading a passenger in the Bronx Wednesday.
It happened at Carpenter Avenue and East 229th Street in the Williamsbridge section of the Bronx at 10:45 a.m. The 37-year-old victim — identified as Irene Espinal-Jiminian — was unloading a passenger and apparently did not put the 2011 Ford van in park.
The van then rolled over Espinal – pinning her under the driver’s side wheel.
Police initially believed the incident was a hit and run.
As CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported, people on the block said the incident was traumatizing as they saw the poor woman under the wheel of her own van.
“I heard the impact and my niece said: ‘Look! Look! There’s somebody underneath the car!’” said Natasha Lewis.
The sudden noise pierced the late morning, and Espinal was left desperately trying to survive.
“She was turned this way and the tire was on top of her, so you couldn’t even see her face,” Lewis said. “Everything was under.”
“Her head was caught under the wheel and we called 911,” another witness said.
Bryanna Glasford said she came outside and saw the woman lying in the street.
“We did everything we could,” Glasford said. “We called the police. We told the ambulance what was needed.”
But Espinal did not make it. She was rushed to nearby Monefiore Medical Center and was pronounced dead on arrival, police said.
The passenger she was unloading was not hurt.
Espinal worked with a nonprofit called the Institute of Applied Human Dynamics, or IAHD. The group works with people with developmental disabilities who live in group homes.
A representative of the nonprofit said Espinal was taking people to a medical appointment when the accident happened.
“We are devastated to learn of the death of our cherished employee,” said Kery Brady, Director of the Institute of Applied Human Dynamics. “It is a terrible tragedy and we extend our condolences to [her] family.”
Those who tried to help were likewise devastated.
“She was helping special needs victims,” Glasford said. “You shouldn’t die helping someone. You shouldn’t die like that, on a corner underneath a car.”
Espinal leaves behind a heartbroken husband and two young boys.