A 32-year-old Staten Island man was killed in Brooklyn on Saturday night by a hit-and-run driver who pulled up onto the sidewalk while trying to park. Jose Cardoso, a married father of two young girls, was fatally struck by the unlicensed driver outside his South Slope place of employment, Inner City Electrical Contractors.
The NYPD says Cardoso was outside 162 21st Street around 8 p.m. when Leonel Ortega-Flores, 35, "lost control" of the GMC van he was attempting to park. According to the police statement, Ortega-Flores mounted the sidewalk and struck Cardoso, pinning him against the building. As others tried to help Cardoso, police say Ortega-Flores fled the scene on foot.
Cardoso was pronounced dead at Methodist hospital. Ortega-Flores was arrested on Sunday morning in the Bronx, where he resides.
Cardoso's widow Guillermina Alonzo-Herrare told the Daily News that her husband was working when he was killed in front of his job, and that "the car that hit him belongs to the owner of the shop where he works."
Alonzo-Herrare's brother, who works with Cardoso, believes his brother-in-law was intentionally killed. "One hundred percent this was not an accident," Elio Garcia told the News. "There's no way. This guy hopped in the seat. He's gotta pay. He has do life in jail. I don't want him do a couple of years."
Ortega-Flores is charged with vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, and operating a motor vehicle without a license.
Staten Island Advance reporter Paul Liotta attended a memorial for Cardoso on Sunday night in West Brighton. Cardoso was a member of El Centro del Inmigrante, a community organization in Staten Island; the group's leader remembered Cardoso as "a young, hard-working, loving father. This is a very sad moment for his family, for our community, and for our organization."
Alonzo-Herrare is now left to care for their daughters, ages two and six, and told the Advance she doesn't know how she'll move on: "Right now I have no head to think about it, but I know I have to be strong. Now I have to be two—a mom and a dad—and I am going to do the best to make him proud."