A woman sitting inside her disabled car on the shoulder of Sunrise Highway in Bay Shore, New York, was killed on Wednesday when another vehicle hit her car from behind, police said.
Jessica Ortiz of Deer Park was stopped on the westbound side of the highway, just west of Exit 43, Fifth Avenue, at about 12:36 p.m. when her car was struck, Newsday reports. A flatbed tow truck had pulled up in front of Ortiz’s vehicle when a Chevy Caprice, driven by Raymond Reinhardt, ran into the back of Ortiz’s car. Ortiz’s car then struck the back of the tow truck, police said. She was taken to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, where she was pronounced dead.
According to police, Ortiz, 21, was on her way home from St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue, where she was a psychology student. She had called a tow truck after her vehicle broke down. Her father, Charles Ortiz, said his daughter called him to say she had gotten a flat tire, and then called to say a tow truck was on the way. When he did not hear back from her again, he said he called her phone repeatedly but got no response, Newsday reports. Eventually, a police detective came to his job to tell him of Jessica’s death.
Reinhardt was also taken to Southside Hospital, where he was in critical but stable condition, police said. The tow truck driver was not injured, according to Newsday. A police spokeswoman said the accident is still under investigation. No charges have been filed against Reinhardt, who has prior convictions for driving-related misdemeanors and infractions.
Ortiz described his daughter as a good-hearted young woman who “knew her goals in life.” She is also survived by her mother and two sisters, Newsday reports.