NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A family says a garbage truck driver is to blame for their son’s death last year in Brooklyn.
As CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported, complaints about the private waste hauling industry are far too common.
“He was a good son,” Cristina Duran told Castro in an exclusive interview.
She knows the heartache any mother feels after losing a child. Even now, several months after the death of her son, she still struggles.
“Some days I remember him a lot,” she said.
Neftaly Ramirez, 27, died last July on Franklin Street in Greenpoint. He was headed home on a bicycle from his restaurant job around midnight, when police say a garbage truck traveling in the same direction turned right. Police sources say Ramirez was dragged underneath.
The street does have a marked shared bike lane. The driver never stopped.
Later, police were able to track him and the truck to Action Environmental, a private waste hauling company, Castro reported. But an arrest was never made.
The district attorney’s office said there is no evidence the driver was aware of any collision and determined it could not sustain criminal charges.
“I find it very hard to believe that he didn’t realize it at all,” Ramirez’s sister, Selina Duran, said. “It’s very upsetting and obviously sad for us. The most important thing for us, for our family is to get justice.”
Action Environmental scheduled and then cancelled an on-camera interview with CBS2, but did provide a statement, reading in part, “Our driver was cleared of all charges.”
Police sources confirm the company has been involved in five pedestrian deaths since 2008.
City Councilman Steven Levin says the problems extend to other private waste hauling companies, as well.
“Here’s a New York City Department of Sanitation truck passing us right now. The last time they had a pedestrian fatality was in 2014 or 15. Meanwhile, there are an average of seven per year with private waste haulers, because they’re driving a lot faster, maybe they don’t have enough training, they’re over worked and under rested,” he told Castro.
At the time of Ramirez’s death, neighbors spoke out about the often-reckless drivers.
“The trucks – you hear them all night long. They just fly down the street,” Mary Ann Giannone said.
Video captures the common complaints: speeding, ignoring one-way traffic signs, etc.
“We need to be doing greater oversight. There need to be better safety regiments in place,” said Levin.
“I think a very strong and concerted effort is being made,” industry consultant Jose Maldonado said. “As we add more technology, as we add more training – we also have sideguards – these will immeasurably improve safety on our streets.”
On Franklin Street, a white ghost bike now memorializes the place where Ramirez likely took his last breath. His family says the tribute is humbling.
“It’s nice to know that other people are honoring him,” Selena said.
“Everybody from his job would call me and tell me that he was a very loveable person. He was, he was,” Cristina added.
The garbage truck driver was issued a summons by the NYPD for driving without a proper license. He has since retired.
The city’s Business Integrity Commission says it often hears complaints from drivers about being pressured to work excessively long shifts and its working with the private industry to regulate that.
The Ramirez family is being represented by Raskin and Kremins LLP.