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Senior woman killed in Union Square by massive tow truck

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Updated July 15, 12:45 a.m.: A woman in her mid-80s was fatally struck by a huge tow truck at Union Square around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, police said.

A crowd gathered at the scene where the tow truck fatally hit the woman. (Photo by © Jefferson Siegel)
Workers from the Medical Examiner’s Office removed the victim’s body from the scene at Union Square North. (Photo by © Jefferson Siegel)

Police identified the victim as Antoinette Turrigiano, 85, of Lindenwood, Queens.

According to a police spokesperson, Turrigiano was crossing midblock at E. 17th St. and Broadway when she was hit by a “heavy-duty” 2016 Peterbilt tow truck traveling westbound on 17th St. Apparently, it happened right in front of the Barnes & Noble superstore.

“She may have been jaywalking,” a police spokesperson said, though adding that the information was still coming in.

A detective talked with the truck’s driver after the fatal incident. (Photo by © Jefferson Siegel)

The woman was pronounced dead at the scene by E.M.S.

Her body lay under a sheet well over an hour and half on a hot afternoon while the Police Department’s Collision Investigation Squad was at the scene.

The driver remained at the location, police said.

— With reporting by Mary Reinholz


  1. jane ho jane ho July 15, 2021

    i work at the greenmarket, and was there from the start to end of this, as farmers consoled each other and tried to protect the woman’s body as the driver frantically called 911. all of the below is absolute hearsay. what I can speak to is how dangerous that intersection is. when the greenmarket is in session, trucks and vans of the farmers (they aren’t allowed to be running in any capacity), park behind their stands. the woman was walking in the spot parallel to barnes and noble, and had walked off the curb, and passed the bike lane — that bike lane, which allows cyclists to go either way, is a tight one, and that’s just a busy intersection and one where people will thoughtlessly attempt to cross the street very quickly. the citi bikes by petco down that street, I think, help to deter pedestrians from crossing in the middle. we always tell people don’t walk in between the stands — because it’s a space that farmers pay for and money and whatnot is in those places. another problem with that area is that the planters that were “strategically placed” in between the bike lane and car lanes are very large and actually do hide people. the woman was so small and frail to be honest that I’m sure she was hidden behind the leafy plants. It is a tow truck, so I think it’s fair to assume that anyone in that area could have called for a tow truck, and that’s what it was doing there. nonetheless, rest in peace, antoinette.

    what made me most sick about all of this is how long the body lay on the ground, in tremendous heat, and I couldn’t help but think, if that was someone I loved, I would just want her to not be exposed. famers placed the white sheet over her — it took the nypd HOURS to get their navy barriers up to shelter a person who died in what was hopefully an instantaneous moment. the rubbernecking and gawking was shameful and a horrendous and upsetting sight.

    she was carrying flowers, and I can’t help but think they were for an “us” to enjoy. rest in peace, antoinette.

    • mary reinholz mary reinholz July 15, 2021

      Thank you, Jane Ho, for describing how godawful it was to have Antoinette’s body lying out there in the heat for so long. And good to know how the farmers put the white sheet over and tried to protect the body.

  2. mary reinholz mary reinholz July 14, 2021

    Police officer I spoke to at the scene said the truck driver noted she was walking across the street mid-block on E. 17th Street and witnesses affirmed that fact in other reporting.

    • Choresh Wald Choresh Wald July 15, 2021

      So now we need to take the driver’s word? The woman who he just killed cannot dispute his claim.
      A reminder for people who are distracting their attention to E-bike riders going the wrong way: Trucks and cars kill, not E-bikes.
      I hope that the department of transportation will create physical elements to slow down drivers to a crawl of 5 MPH on this heavily used, mostly pedestrian block.

      • mary reinholz mary reinholz July 15, 2021

        Let me try to clarify since I was at the scene some 20 minutes after the woman was struck and killed by a huge tow truck. Her body was still lying under a blanket in the middle of the block on E. 17th Street between Park Avenue South and Broadway. She clearly did not cross with a light at the intersection. That’s known as jaywalking but it may not have been her intent. Eye witnesses in other accounts note that the woman seemed confused and was looking at her phone as she walked toward trees across the street at the northern edge of the Greenmarket. She was apparently killed instantly. The driver remained on the block and has not been charged in this tragedy.

  3. jt10000 jt10000 July 14, 2021

    “She may have been jaywalking,”

    This is appalling speculation – reckless of NYPD to throw this out and irresponsible to even print it. NYPD routinely blames victims of traffic crashes and is shown to be wrong. if anything, in looking at the size of the truck, the driver did not see her. A truck that size demands extreme caution.

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