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A 41-year-old sanitation worker from Astoria was killed Tuesday morning after he was struck by a tractor-trailer truck and pinned under the vehicle at the corner of 35th Avenue and Ditmars Boulevard, the city’s sanitation commissioner said.
Frank Justich, who had been an 11-year veteran of the city Sanitation Department, died in the line of duty after being struck by the truck around 7:45 a.m. The Astoria resident had been emptying a corner litter basket near 35th Avenue along Ditmars Boulevard, Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said.
Justich, whose sanitation routes had always been in Queens, was taken to Astoria’s Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens, where he was pronounced dead, Doherty said.
“This reminds people how dangerous this job really is,” said Harry Nespoli, president of the city’s Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association. “This was a man who got up this morning, went to work and is not going home. In the past seven years, we’ve had 10 deaths that occurred out in the field.”
Nespoli pleaded with residents to be careful when passing sanitation trucks on city streets because workers are often in the street and obscured by the vehicles.
“Some people don’t have patience,” he said. “We’re out there doing our jobs, so we ask the public to give us some time.”
Justich is survived by his wife and their two daughters, ages 4 and 1.
A city police spokeswoman said the sanitation worker’s death had been ruled an accident and that no charges were being brought against the driver of the tractor-trailer.
Sal Infortumio, who lives on 74th Street, said he heard about the accident from his daughter-in-law and then went to the scene.
“I’ve known him for years,” he said of Justich. “You couldn’t ask for a nicer person. Imagine going to work and not knowing you will not go home to your wife and kids.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Justich’s death was a “sobering reminder to all of us of the risks that members of all our uniformed services take on behalf of the rest of us.”
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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