City sanitation driver cuffed for hitting and killing man while going wrong way on one-way street

Police arrested a Department of Sanitation driver who hit and killed a man in Crown Heights after turning his city garbage truck the wrong way on a one-way street early Thursday morning.

The 33-year-old driver was traveling along Eastern Parkway towards Prospect Heights when he smashed into 37-year-old Alberto Leal at 6:47 am while turning against traffic onto the one-way Brooklyn Avenue, which the victim was crossing on foot, according to Police Department spokesman Officer Brian Magoolaghan.

Cops called to the scene found Leal with severe head trauma, and paramedics pronounced him dead when they arrived at the site, Magoolahan said.

The city employee remained at the scene, and authorities later booked him on charges including driving in the wrong direction on one-way street, failure to exercise due care, and failure to yield to a pedestrian, according to police spokeswoman Det. Annette Shelton.

A Sanitation Department spokesman said the agency suspended the driver, an employee since 2005, following his arrest, and that its bigwigs are cooperating with cops and conducting their own investigation into the incident.

“We continue to cooperate fully with the NYPD,” said Vito Turso. “In addition, a DSNY safety investigation is also underway.”

The fatal crash came roughly two months after another city garbage-truck driver hit and injured a cyclist, without stopping, in Bushwick on Aug. 1, but ultimately did not receive any charges or violations.

The last time a Sanitation Department employee killed someone while at the wheel was in 2014, when a worker operating a street sweeper crushed his colleague inside a municipal garage in Queens, resulting in taxpayers footing a $41.5-million payment a judge awarded to the deceased’s widow in 2017 after she sued the city, according to a New York Post report.

Private carting companies and their drivers, on the other hand, have racked up no less than two fatalities on Brooklyn roads in as many years.

In August, a loose tire flew off a Century Waste Services truck on the Gowanus Expressway and smashed into the windshield of a sport-utility vehicle moving in the opposite direction, killing its driver, a Police Department employee, on the same day the city sanitation employee injured the cyclist in Bushwick.

And in July 2017, Action Carting employee Jose Nunez fatally drove his truck into 27-year-old cyclist Neftaly Ramirez in Greenpoint, and rode off without stopping.

But months later, District Attorney Eric Gonzalez declined to prosecute Nunez, who was behind the wheel without the proper license when he struck and killed Ramirez, claiming he did not have the evidence to prove the driver knew he hit the victim — despite a crash-reconstruction expert telling prosecutors “had the driver of the vehicle paid attention … he could have easily seen the bicyclist.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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