New York City, NY Auto Plunges Into River, Nov 1963


New York (AP) - Eleven persons, men, women and children of "one big family," drowned early Sunday when the car in which they were returning from a gay christening party leaped over a dead-end barrier and plunged into the icy waters of the Harlem River.
The death toll equaled the state's known record for a single traffic mishap.
Police said twin blinker warning lights near the river's edge had been blacked out by vandals who tore out the wiring.
City Highway Commissioner John T. Carroll ordered an immediate survey of all streets with dead-ends on rivers, and said corrective action would be taken to remove any hazardous conditions.
Police Commissioner Michael J. Murphy said the heavy death toll raised city auto fatalities to a record weekend high of 24 - the greatest number since the city began compiling such records 40 years ago.
Those who died Sunday included three men, four women and four children, all members of interrelated Brooklyn families.
Eight bodies were recovered from the murky, 40-foot-deep waters and police searched for the remaining three persons known to have been in the car at the time of the crash.
A 12th occupant escaped with his life.
The group was en route from the christening party in the Bronx home of Rabindranatt Berrios.
The crash almost wiped out three interrelated Brooklyn families.
The accident occurred shortly after midnight following the Bronx party.
The record single traffic accident death toll for the state was believed set when 11 persons lost their lives in a bus--tractor trailer crash near Painted Post on Dec. 14, 1943.
Only one person, J. MARTINEZ, 40, of Brooklyn, was known to survive. He was in severe shock.
Police said the driver of the car turned into Lincoln Avenue, which runs into a dead end at the river at 132nd Street. The
car ran out onto a concrete string-piece and into the water. There is no fence at the end of the street.
Authorities said the driver apparently was headed for the Third Avenue Bridge over the river but made a wrong turn and went down Lincoln Avenue.
Police identified those killed as:
JUDITH VELEZ MARTINEZ, 25; and her 4-year-old daughter, DALIA.
AMELIA APONTE VELEZ, 34; LUIS BERRIOS, 22; his son, ANGEL, 15 months; his daughter, IRIS, 3; the elder Berrios' sister, HAYDEE BERRIOS, 21; and JUAN BORRELLI, 40.
Police tentatively identified these others as killed in the crash:
The bodies of all except MRS. BERRIOS; DAVID MARTINEZ; and ROBINSON VELEZ have been recovered.

The Post-Standard Syracuse New York 1963-11-04