Seven Killed as S.U.V. Plunges Into the Bronx Zoo

10:27 p.m. | Updated The revised version of this post is available here.

Seven people were killed on Sunday after a Honda S.U.V. that they were in lost control and fell several dozen feet from a Bronx River Parkway overpass, coming to rest in an area of the Bronx Zoo, law enforcement officials said.

Three of the dead in the one-vehicle accident were children, said a spokesman for the Fire Department, Jim Long. All of the dead were in the Honda; the police said all the victims are from a single Bronx family.

The accident occurred around 12:30 p.m. on the southbound lanes of the parkway, just north of East 180th Street. A police spokesman said that the Honda was heading south in the passing lane when it lost control and struck the median; witnesses told the police that it appeared that a tire had blown.

Accident investigators estimated that the Honda Pilot, driven by a 45-year-old woman, was traveling at around 70 miles per hour, said a law enforcement official.  There did not appear to be any signs of skid marks prior to the moment when the car initially hit the Jersey barrier before it veered toward the guardrail on the right, the official said. But there was a clean trail of skid marks that cut straight across three southbound lanes, leading to a guardrail that separated the parkway from the earth and streets below.

The guardrail bore no scars from the Honda, for there was no impact; police investigators said the vehicle hit a curb that propelled it directly over the guardrail and into a wooded area, landing upside down.

“Sometimes you come upon events that are horrific and this is one of them,” Deputy Chief Ronald Werner, of Division 7, said at a brief news conference less than three hours after the accident.

The dead included two grandparents, an 85-year-old man and his 81-year-old wife; their two daughters, 45 and 39; and three grandchildren, ages 10, 7 and 3, the police said. An earlier account of the victims’ ages was incorrect.

An official with the Bronx Zoo said that the S.U.V. landed within the zoo’s southeast boundary. “This did happen on the southeast side of the zoo, far from any public areas, where there were no people, no animals, and no exhibits,” the person said. Much of the zoo’s 265 acres are wooded and not in use.

A similar accident occurred last year only a few feet away, on the northbound lanes of the Bronx River Parkway at East 180th Street. In that accident in June 2011, a car “flew through a chain-link fence and sailed into the air” after striking a median, according to a report about the accident in The New York Post. The car landed on East 180th Street; the driver and passenger survived.

“For the second time in a year, an accident on the Bronx River Parkway has led to a car falling off the highway to the streets below,” the Bronx borough president, Ruben Diaz, Jr., said in a statement.

“After this happened one time, I think there’s some thought that it’s freak occurrence,” said John DeSio, a spokesman for Mr. Diaz. “But it has happened again. So we’ll be speaking to the appropriate agencies and examining whether appropriate safety measures, such as higher fences and guard rails, should be taken.”

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