Newark tentatively settled a lawsuit today with the families of two women drowned in 2004 when the car they were riding in drove off of Raymond Boulevard and plunged into the Passaic River.
Hawkins, 39, Floyd, 34, and Gail Williams, 43, all of Newark, drowned after their Jeep Cherokee plunged off a 15-foot embankment and into the river at Raymond Boulevard and Freeman Street on October 24, 2004. There were no guardrails or barriers to prevent cars from going into the river along that stretch of road.
Five months later, Ceneida Zapata, 52, of Newark lost control of her Dodge Dynasty, then struck and killed David Torre, 54, of East Orange, before toppling into the river at almost the same spot.
After the first accident, the city did not install guardrails or barriers at the deadly stretch of road despite a letter from former police director Anthony Ambrose to former engineering director James Adams requesting the safety measures.
Temporary barriers and a traffic light were installed after the second deadly accident. More than 3 years after Zapata’s accident Mayor Cory Booker announced last week that the city was spending $200,000 to build permanent steel guardrails along a quarter mile stretch of Raymond Boulevard from Freeman Street to Somme Street. Work on the project is scheduled to begin Thursday and be completed in July.