Carting truck’s tire flies off, kills NYPD employee

A loose tire flew off a private garbage truck and into another car on the road, killing the man inside it as he drove to work along the Gowanus Expressway on Wednesday morning, police said.

A 46-year-old employee from New Jersey-based private sanitation company Century Waste Services was traveling along the highway towards Sunset Park, when the 2009 Mack truck’s rear passenger wheel came unhinged, flew over the fast lane’s median, and then slammed into a Staten Island man’s 2003 Chevy Tracker, shattering its windshield, as he was headed to work in the opposition direction at about 6:30 am, police said.

Paramedics rushed the unconscious 64-year-old Staten Islander, who worked as a steamfitter for New York’s Finest, to New York University’s Langone Hospital in Kings County with severe head trauma where doctors pronounced him dead, according to authorities.

Cops slapped the driver — who stayed at the scene with his 27-year-old so-called helper — with “a large quantity of summons” on the big rig, said a police spokesman.

“A number of summonses for equipment violations, more than 10,” said Det. Hubert Reyes, who couldn’t specify what the exact infractions were or what fines they will result in.

The accident once again puts the spotlight on private sanitation companies’ safety practices, with Century Waste joining New Jersey-based Action Carting, Bensonhurst-based Viking Sanitation, and Bronx-based Sanitation Salvage, all being accused of ignoring safety regulations.

“Century has a long history of loose wheels, failed inspections, reckless drivers and dangerous crashes,” said Bay Ridge Councilman Justin Brannan, whose district includes the scene of the fatal crash. “Unfortunately, reckless disregard for safety seems to be the rule, not the exception, among private carters. Fatal crashes are up in this industry, even as Vision Zero is driving fatalities down overall.”

Trucks at Century Waste have been involved in four crashes since June 2016, and inspectors have slapped its haulers with 76 violations over the same time span, including for dangerous driving, bad brakes, and improper lights — 22 of which resulted in pulling those big rigs from the fleet, records show.

Specifically on Feb. 3, federal transportation inspectors forced one of Century Waste’s trucks off the road because of a loose wheel whose axle had defective or missing parts, the records show.

A spokesman for Century Waste Service did not respond to requests for comment about how often its trucks get routine maintenance and check ups, but said the company is cooperating with police.

“Our hearts go out to the family of the victim, this event was an unfortunate accident. We are fully cooperating with the investigation of this tragic event,” said Ara Chekmayan.

Police are still investigating the fatality, and had yet to release the man’s identity pending family notification as of Wednesday evening.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.