One of the New Yorkers killed in a rollover crash on the Palisades Parkway that left four dead had recently arrived from the Dominican Republic hoping for a fresh start in life — but had concerns about the shuttle vans taking her and others to work, a relative said.
Clara Estrella, 49, was killed along with Jose Luis Romero Munoz, 59, and Candida Frias, who would have been 60 on Saturday, and the driver, George Massey, 54, of Yonkers, in the Friday morning crash.
“She was a beautiful person,” Estrella’s cousin Nathaly Paulino told WNBC. “She came over here to have a better life.”
Another eight passengers in the van were injured and taken to area hospitals after Massey apparently suffered a medical emergency and crashed the Ford Econoline van on the parkway near Englewood Cliffs and Alpine, NJ, police said.
“It was a chaotic scene,” said Lt. Raymond Walter of the Palisades Interstate Parkway Police. “It took about 45 minutes to get everybody extricated from the vehicles.”
None of the passengers were reportedly wearing seatbelts.
The victims were traveling back from the Amscan distribution plant in Chester, NY, in Orange County, which is owned by the retail giant Party City.
“It is with heavy hearts that we can confirm our Chester Distribution Center team suffered the loss of three valued team members early this morning,” a spokesperson for Party City said in a statement.
Paulino said the workers were made to sign a paper saying they would not take private transportation and would take the shuttle van instead.
“The transportation was always a problem,” she said. “The bus runs out of gas or gets lost. It’s always something with these buses.”
Attempts to reach a Party City spokesperson were unsuccessful Saturday.
The vans were coordinated through a company called On Target Staffing in Inwood, WNBC reported. The person who answered the phone there Saturday hung up on a Post reporter.
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