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December 16, 2018

Garbage truck driver who fatally struck pedestrian gets reinstated 2 months after crash — and a Brooklyn Councilman wants answers from de Blasio, Sanitation Dept.

December 5, 2018
Sanitation truck driver Aaron Gilchrist (pictured) was charged in October for failing to yield and driving the wrong way. Gilchrist was driving the wrong way down an Eastern Parkway service road on the morning of Oct. 11 when he slammed into Alberto Leal, killing him. (Obtained by Daily News)

City Councilman Robert Cornegy is demanding answers from Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Sanitation commissioner after a wrong-way garbage truck driver was reinstated two months after he struck and killed a pedestrian.

Aaron Gilchrist, 33, plowed over Alberto Leal in the crosswalk where Eastern Parkway meets Brooklyn Ave. in Crown Heights about 7 p.m. on Oct. 11, according to police.




Leal died at the scene.

Gilchrist was charged with failure to yield and was immediately suspended from duty, but months later he was back at work at the Sanitation Department on modified duty. He’s allowed to drive his own car, but not a garbage truck.

The DSNY’s decision to have him return to work, even in his own car, does not show sound judgement, Cornegy said in a letter to the Mayor and Commissioner Kathryn Garcia.

“What this means is that DSNY believes it will soon be appropriate to put this unsafe driver back behind the wheel, even though his dangerous and unlawful actions have already led to the tragic death of a Brooklyn resident this year,” the councilman said.

Cornegy questioned the judgement of Garcia and the mayor in light of a proposal to zone the areas where private garbage haulers work in order to improve safety.

“I am deeply concerned because under the administration’s zone proposal, trash haulers who win contracts would be selected by the same city officials who decided that there is simply nothing wrong with putting a dangerous DSNY driver back on the job.”

Cornegy has his own plan for improving safety in private carting by improving driver training and cracking down on companies that tolerate unsafe standards.

The Sanitation Department said that they are preparing a response to the councilman and plan to fire Gilchrist soon.

“We are in receipt of the letter and will be responding,” DSNY spokeswoman Belinda Mager said. “Regarding Sanitation Worker Gilchrest’s status, we are continuing to move through the disciplinary process, and are seeking termination of his employment.”

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