NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Just 16 hours after a 19-year-old man was shot dead a few blocks away, another life was claimed in a tragic car accident two blocks away.
A yellow van operated by Woodbridge-based Sunny Transportation struck an elderly man, running over him and his walker near the intersection of French and Plum Streets yesterday at about 1:20pm.
Sunny operates a fleet of vans that transport medical patients to and from appointments and regularly can be seen cruising around New Brunswick's city streets.
Police officers and firefighters responded to the scene, reported by the dispatcher as a "pedestrian struck, stuck underneath the vehicle."
The area where the unidentified man was killed is one where a well-connected developer had originally promised to pay for the installation of traffic signals. Both intersections on Route 27, Prospect and Plum Streets, remain unsignalized.
The city's Traffic Commission addressed the broken promises at a recent meeting in City Hall, but has yet to take action.
Sunny Transportation, which sometimes refers to their vehicles as ambulances, received two reviews on NJ.com's Business Finder website, both negative:
"Sunny Medical transport is nothing but a Medicare fraud!… According to medicare guildlines they will only pay for ambulance transport to and from dialysis transports if the patient can't walk or sit in a wheelchair and is able to stand with minimal assistance. Almost all of their patients walk and drive their own cars," read one review, posted by "People Against Fraud."
Another user, who simply called identified themselves as "reviewer," said, "Idiots should not be in transportation business. they have their own agenda, absolutely no regard for passengers… If i ever see SUNNY again i will not ride with these scammers. They should be blacklisted."
The transportation company hung up on a reporter who contacted them about the incident, according to the Star-Ledger. They have operated out of a Kimball Street location in the Avenel section of Woodbridge, NJ since 1994, according to published reports.
The busy intersection where the elderly man was struck is outside a new building owned by French Street Urban Renewal Co., a company set up to be awarded a long-term tax exemption. AST Development Corporation is the company behind the 125,000 sq. ft. building, whose sole tenant is Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.
Despite the exemption which limits the property's taxes considerably, the owners of the building forgot to pay their taxes last year but rectified the debt quickly as we reported in December.
AST built the 9-story office building on French Street, a state highway, in 2008. Entire blocks of Somerset, Plum, French, and Prospect Streets were leveled for the plan, which also included an 854-space parking garage, mostly for the hospital.
Plans for a third structure that would include 55 condominiums were scrapped due to the poor housing market, after AST had already forced out Chadras, the last Hungarian restaurant in New Brunswick, and several residents to make way for a vacant lot that sat unused for years.
Earlier this year, the vacant lot that was supposed to be AST's 12-story condominium building was paved and turned into a "temporary" parking lot operated by the New Brunswick Parking Authority.
Robert D'Anton, the head of the Lavalette-based developer, serves as one of NJ's seven lottery commissioners and was a close ally of former New Brunswick Mayor John Lynch, who served a term in federal prison for corruption.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.