NYPD worker killed by tire that fell off truck from fleet with history of safety issues

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A sanitation company involved in a fatal accident today in New York has had a history of truck problems and had been operating under a conditional safety rating according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Sixty-four-year-old Robert Martinez, who had worked as a steamfitter at the New York Police Department, was struck and killed by a spare tire this morning that fell off a trash truck owned by New Jersey-based Century Waste Services.

The truck’s spare tire struck Martinez’ Chevy Tracker as he was driving to work on the Gowanus Expressway in Brooklyn around 6:40 a.m. The tire, pictured below, crashed through Martinez’ windshield striking his head and killing him.

The driver of the Century Waste hauler pulled over and remained at the scene. Traffic was shut down for six hours as police investigated, according to abc7ny.com. No charges have been reported.

On its website, Century Waste states that it has “expertly tailored services” and a “flawless track record.” However, records on FMCSA’s website tell a different story.

Over the past two years, 65 percent of the company’s 32-vehicle fleet failed inspections and were removed from service. That’s over triple the national average of 21 percent. Two drivers out of 20 were also sidelined during that time which is nearly double the national average.

Three crashes with injuries were reported since July 2016. The company, based in Elizabeth, N.J., had been issued a conditional carrier safety rating last October. Three ratings are available:

  • Satisfactory: Records indicate no evidence of substantial non-compliance with safety requirements.
  • Conditional: Records indicate that the carrier was out of compliance with one or more safety requirements.
  • Unsatisfactory: Records indicate evidence of substantial noncompliance with safety requirements.

Regarding Martinez’ death, Century Waste said in a statement, “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.”

Today’s accident marks the second time in less than a month that a person was killed by a flying tire while driving in New York. On July 5, a tire came loose from a truck traveling on the Sunrise Highway in West Babylon and struck two vehicles. A person in the vehicle first struck by the tire was killed. The truck’s driver has since come forward and is cooperating with police, nbcnewyork.com reported.