Fatal Accident at Main and Union


A tragic accident on Wednesday, September 20 highlighted the importance of pedestrian safety in this busy city when Jose Villanueva, a husband and father in his seventies, was struck by an automobile and later, died.

The accident occurred around 9 a.m. on Union Avenue, near the intersection with Main Avenue. According to reports from Clifton police officers on the scene and eyewitness accounts, the man had bent down to pick something up from the road. He could not see the approaching car and the driver, who was turning off of Main onto Union, could not see him.

Following the collision, the driver and her passenger, both nursing students on their way to class, administered first aid and called 9-1-1. Villanueva was transported to St. Joseph’s in Paterson, where he later died from his injuries.

Detective Lt. Robert Bracken said that the on-scene investigators determined that the driver was not intoxicated nor was she using her cell phone at the time of the collision. There has not yet been an official press release from the county prosecutor’s office but Bracken does not expect charges to be filed.

A passerby who was in the area immediately following the accident, but who did not witness it, was back again hours later and said, “The investigation took a good long while. The police were there until about 12:30.” He said that there was a car sitting in the road on Union which he assumed was the accident-involved vehicle and that it was eventually towed away.

New Jersey’s Fatal Accident Investigation Unit’s data indicate that more than 50% of all pedestrian deaths so far this year involved victims who were aged 50 or older (62 of the total 104 fatalities). The United States Department of Transportation noted in a 2018 pedestrian report that “Older pedestrians (generally those over 65) are more likely to die from their injuries when struck due to the inherent fragility associated with the aging process. Factors that may increase vulnerability to being struck for some older pedestrians include age-related physical changes that may lead to walking more slowly; difficulty crossing the curb, difficulty judging walking speeds and oncoming vehicle speeds, and difficulty with interactions dealing with turning vehicles at intersections; and possible confusion about pedestrian signal phases (Dommes et al., 2012; Holland & Hill, 2010; Coffin & Morrall, 1995).”

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