Young Guatemalan immigrant Josue Mardoqueo Vicente Yac dies in tragic Sunset Park motorcycle accident

Homesick Guatemalan teen dies in Brooklyn collision; rising traffic fatalities challenge New York's Vision Zero safety goals.

A young Guatemalan immigrant’s journey was abruptly halted in a heart-wrenching incident in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park. Josue Mardoqueo Vicente Yac, aged 17, was fatally hit by a tractor-trailer truck on his way home from work around 2:30 a.m. Saturday. The teenager was reportedly leaving his restaurant job, where he worked as a kitchen helper.

The circumstances of the accident suggest that both Vicente and the truck driver were traveling south on 4th Avenue. As they approached 39th Street, the truck driver made a right turn, colliding with Vicente, who was merely a mile from his residence. Despite the swift action of paramedics who rushed him to NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn, they couldn’t save the young man’s life.

The 41-year-old truck driver, whose identity remains undisclosed, left the accident scene. However, he later presented himself at a police station, expressing concerns that he might have hit someone. Currently, he faces no charges, but the investigation is ongoing.

A family’s grief

Speaking from San Andres Semetabaj, a quaint town in Guatemala from where Vicente had migrated last year, his sister, Zambia Antonieta Vicenta Yac, 33, expressed her grief. “I’m very sad,” she shared in Spanish, “He was my younger brother. With his death, we are six, not seven.”

The loss is particularly poignant as Vicente had moved to New York City to be with some of his siblings and to earn a livelihood. She remembered him fondly: “He said he wanted to work… He said he wanted to accomplish many things. He always called us. He was a very kind person and a very humble guy with a big heart. He wanted to better himself.”

Rising traffic concerns in NYC

Vicente’s tragic death highlights a broader issue plaguing New York City. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT) data, Vicente is the 15th individual to lose his life while riding an unregistered moped or a similar vehicle this year. The stats further reveal that another 34 people have died since the year’s start on registered two-wheelers in the city.

This surge in fatalities is alarming. At the same juncture last year, the city had recorded 15 deaths among those using unregistered “other motorized vehicles,” encompassing electric and gasoline-powered mopeds, electric stand-up scooters, and unregistered hoverboards. Moreover, 30 motorcyclists had already lost their lives by this time.

Despite the “Vision Zero” initiative introduced in 2014 by then-Mayor Bill de Blasio, aiming for zero deaths by 2024, the road safety situation seems to be deteriorating. The NYPD data unveils a staggering 260% increase in cyclist fatalities in the first half of 2023 alone and a 325% rise since the inception of the Vision Zero plan. Disturbingly, hit-and-run incidents are not uncommon.

With such grim statistics, including 53% more cyclist deaths this year and 112 fatalities in road crashes (with a significant number in Queens), the city’s road safety measures demand urgent revaluation.

New York authorities continue to stress zero tolerance for drivers who speed or drive under the influence, urging everyone to exercise caution and prioritize safety.