Monday, April 11, 2005

Hit And Run

On April 8th Maria Nolan, a 45 year old financial planner for Fleet Securities, was crossing the street near Madison Avenue and East 65th Street when she killed by a hit and run driver.

Described in the press as a pretty, well dressed, and petite woman – she lived in a luxury condominium on East 57th street with her husband, John. He must be devastated.

One of the victim's neighbors said, "She was a lovely woman; she was very quiet and unassuming, and she just... it's gonna be a tragic loss... really feel terrible."

Police are blanketing the area with signs and reviewing traffic camera surveillance tapes trying to find the driver of the car.

If you live in the NYC area I’m sure you’ve seen the story. It’s been all over the TV and the newspapers.

But there was another hit and run accident this weekend in New Jersey that didn’t make the front pages or the evening news.

Buried in the back pages of the Bergen Record was this story……

WESTWOOD (NJ) - A restaurant worker riding his bike home from work was killed by a hit-and-run driver Saturday morning.

Jario Gonzalez-Romero, 23, of Cedar Lane in River Vale was riding home about 1:45 a.m. when he was struck and killed near Old Hook Road and Carver Avenue.

Police said they are looking for a dark-colored compact vehicle, based on witness descriptions.

Gonzalez-Romero worked at the Harvest Bistro & Bar in Closter. He would ride a Schwinn bike about three miles between his home and the restaurant, said Detective Robert Saul of the Westwood Police Department.

A friend of mine worked with Jario and emailed me today....

Tonight I was watching the news and saw a piece on a woman who was run down and killed in Manhattan. She was a financial planner. They spent several minutes on the story. Below you will find an article about a young man who worked as a dish washer and prep cook at Harvest. They used a total of 5 sentences and the article was buried on the last page of the local section. Seems fair. He was making next to nothing, couldn't even afford a car so he had to ride a bike. It doesn't even mention (Jario’s friend) , who was riding right next to him when this happened and has decided to go back to Costa Rica because of his feelings of guilt.

I don't know, I guess I'm just pissed and think someone should do something to catch the shit who only stopped for a second before speeding away. I thought maybe if there was more news coverage someone who saw something or someone who knows the guilty person might be persuaded to do something.

……. I'm just trying to deal with a death…..he was a nice guy and he worked hard. It’s just not fair.



It isn’t fair. It never is.

You’ve all seen guys like Jario - working long hours gutting fish; hauling stinking heaps of garbage to the dumpster, and washing dishes so better heeled customers don’t have to. People like him work quietly, backstage, making the theater that is a restaurant become reality.

Maybe when you walk by a restaurant you see one of them - catching a quick smoke while wearily sitting on an empty crate in the back alleys of affluence.

What's their life worth?

My first reaction when I read my friend’s email was anger. Why does the hit and run in New York get broad media coverage while Jario’s death only merits five sentences in a local paper? Was it because Ms. Nolan was affluent and attractive and Jario is only another faceless immigrant? Is Jario somehow less valuable? Less newsworthy?

After my anger cooled I accepted the hard reality that news about people dying on the Upper East Side sells more papers than someone run down in Westwood, NJ. It’s not personal or evil. It’s just the way it is.

I realized something else. Two families are grieving today. One in New York, the other in Costa Rica and New Jersey.

To them Maria and Jario’s lives were treasures beyond price.

At the restaurant where Jario worked they’ve taken up a collection to ship his body back to Central America. People who didn’t even know Jario are volunteering to work in the kitchen so his coworkers can take some time off and mourn. The restaurant owner is pitching in financially to help. Others are contacting the media to ask them to help the police find the car the struck Jario.

Obviously – by the actions of his friends – Jario was valuable.

In New York City, Ms. Nolan’s friends and family gather to grieve. There will be remembrance and tears. She sounded like a nice person. Another valuable life ended too soon.

Similar accidents in two different cities, two lives of equal value cut short - the same aching sense of loss.

My deepest sympathy for Jario and Maria’s families and friends.

To the people that killed them - turn yourselves in.

If you have any knowledge about Ms. Nolan’s death contact the New York City Police Department at (646)-610-5000

If you have any knowledge about Jario’s death contact the Westwood, NJ Police Department at (201) 664-7000.

Donations to help cover Jario’s funeral expenses and provide support to his family are being accepted at this address:

Jario Fund c/o Russell Stern
Harvest Bistro
252 Schraalenburgh Road
Closter, NJ 07624

Make checks payable to Harvest Bistro. Write “Jario Fund” in the notation section.

Thank you.

Comments:
Hi, your blog title caught my attention, then the rant blew me away. I couldn't agree with you more about the class-treatment of lives in the media. My daughter works as "waitress" or server, to be P.C., but she will someday be a lawyer. It is sad to know that if she was run over today there'd be little press, if she became a "noteworthy" lawyer, the story would be different. I'm just glad to know that there's people who understand that it often goes like that, but God knows each person is valuable. The law enforcement people I know have been taught to give effort to every investigation, from the street person to the famous, and pursue justice no matter the status of the victim or how the media treated them. When a Vietnamese immigrant was run down locally by a young affluent white male who was drunk, it happened that there really was local outrage, due to the police in this case thoroughly pursuing prosecution to the fullest for that victim. Hope that helps you to know that we do pursue all leads on these suspects in hit & runs. Thanks for the thoughts.
 
I've been a waitress for years, and have worked with so many latinos who are genrally illegal, working their a**es off to scrape by and get their families to America. They're some of the nicest hardest wok\rking people I've ever met, and yet, as this entry proves, they are discarded, shunned, and generally disrespected. The injustice of it has always pissed me off, but this - this is horrible. The only thing I can say is that there's some redemption in the fact that the co-workers and sucha re being so supportive and wonderful. Excellent entry here, glad you posted it - I hope a LOT of pople read it and take heart.
 
Hi I have just added your blog to my Feedreader because it looks like a keeper. I have a technical question for you though. This particular entry "Hit and Run" is formatted correctly in Feedreader - showing all the line breaks and paragraphs, whereas all the other blogspot entries (and not just yours) always format as one big block of text. Did you do anything differently for this entry? I am trying to achieve the same effect.
Thanks. Love your writing style.
 
Why do you assume that the economic differences between the 2 casualties is the reason that one story was reported and the other wasn't? Every day there are stories about people of all different walks of life who are injured (children falling out of windows, people hit by cars, etc.). This might simply have been a case of the New Jersey accident not being reported to the media.
 
Why do you assume that the economic differences between the 2 casualties is the reason that one story was reported and the other wasn't? Every day there are stories about people of all different walks of life who are injured (children falling out of windows, people hit by cars, etc.). This might simply have been a case of the New Jersey accident not being reported to the media.
 
You're more than likely right about the economic differences between Maria and Jario is the reason she got more coverage. Just think to the coverage Elizabeth Smart's kidnapping got while a little black girl who had been walked to school in Wisconsin around the same time also disappeared and we heard NOTHING about it. Apparently even in the 21st century the media thinks we only care about white children or rich children.
 
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