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Pedestrian killed, another injured on Park Avenue in Long Beach

Police say victims were struck by volunteer firefighter responding to call

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A pedestrian was killed and another was seriously injured after they left a restaurant just after midnight on Saturday and crossed East Park Avenue, where they were struck by vehicle driven by a Long Beach volunteer firefighter, police said.

Nassau County police said that the incident occurred at 12:30 a.m., after Julia Morales, 57, and her husband, Ruben, 60, of Lindenhurst, left Half Moon Restaurant and Bar, at 22 E. Park Ave., and were walking north across Park Avenue, near the Stop & Shop shopping center. They were struck by a westbound 1999 Buick Century driven by a 22-year-old firefighter who, according to Long Beach police, was on his way to a reported house fire. Police did not identify him.

“It was a terrible, unfortunate accident in the dark and in the rain,” said Michael Tangney, Long Beach police commissioner and Acting city manager.

Julia Morales was pronounced dead at the scene at 12:36 a.m., police said. Ruben, who Tangney said sustained multiple fractures, a broken spine, a concussion and a lacerated kidney, was transported in a Long Beach Fire Department ambulance to a nearby hospital in critical but stable condition.

Police said that the driver remained at the scene, and that the vehicle was impounded for a safety check. The investigation was continuing, they said, and investigators were looking for video and any witnesses. Long Beach police were working in conjunction with the Nassau County Vehicular Homicide Unit, but Tangney said no that charges had been filed against the firefighter.

Citing Nassau County police, Newsday reported that the firefighter had turned on his blue emergency lights. He was responding to a report of smoke coming from a house, Long Beach Fire Commissioner Scott Kemins said. The call was related to a backyard fire pit on West Market Street. The firefighter was headed to the fire station at City Hall, where volunteer firefighters are trained to go before responding to a call.

A spokesman for the city said there have been three fatal collisions on Park Avenue since the beginning of 2017, including this one. Elissa Kyle, planning director for Vision Long Island, a group that studies vehicle, pedestrian and cyclist collisions, said, “For the commercial stretch of Park Avenue from Lafayette to Monroe boulevards, there were 14 crashes between vehicle and pedestrian, and vehicle and cyclist [from 2014 to 2016].”

“This was one of 30 roads in Long Island that are particularly dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists in a downtown area,” Kyle added, referring to Park Avenue.