Image: Police investigate the body of man under a van
Police investigate after the body of man was discovered under a van in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn on Wednesday. The man was hit by an SUV in Queens, then swept under the van and dragged nearly 20 miles.
updated 2/12/2009 6:36:25 PM ET 2009-02-12T23:36:25

The man who was hit by a car, trapped under a van and dragged for nearly 20 miles through the city was a hardworking immigrant who religiously sent money home to his wife and daughter in Ecuador, relatives said Thursday.

Guido Salvador Carabajo-Jara turned 26 the day before he was killed in Wednesday’s gruesome accident. He was crossing a busy street near his home in Queens when he was hit by an SUV, then impaled by a steel plate under a second vehicle, a van. His body wasn’t discovered until the van driver arrived in Brooklyn about an hour later.

His sister, Rosa Carabajo, and his cousin Felix Jara returned to their Queens neighborhood Thursday from the hospital morgue, weeping and distressed.

“He was an excellent person, very easygoing, very happy,” Jara said in Spanish. “I was in shock. We don’t know how this could have happened. I didn’t believe it until I saw his saw his face.”

Police said the death was accidental and that they have no plans to charge the two drivers, who both have clean driving records. The miles of dragging wore off the hair on the back of Carabajo-Jara’s head and his clothing and skin on his legs and buttocks.

An autopsy found that Carabajo-Jara died from multiple blunt-impact injuries, medical examiner spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said Thursday. It hadn’t been determined whether he died before the van started dragging him.

Details emerged Thursday from police and relatives about the victim, who shared an apartment with his cousin and sister. Carabajo-Jara’s wife and mother live in Ecuador.

'Family is destroyed'
Another relative, Ignacio Quintero, said Carabajo-Jara had a 4-year-old daughter in Ecuador and faithfully sent money back to his family there to care for the girl. He described Carabajo-Jara as a hard worker whose mission was to provide for his child and save enough money to build a home in Ecuador.

“The family is destroyed,” Quintero said in Spanish. “They are in a lot of pain.”

Carabajo-Jara was supposed to meet Felix Jara at 8 a.m. Wednesday to go to work laying tile in Brooklyn. When he didn’t show, his family spent the day looking for him.

It wasn’t until about 11 p.m. Wednesday that police notified them that he had been killed. No identification had been found with Carabajo-Jara — only a business card, Western Union receipt and broken iPhone.

He was hit Wednesday morning in the Corona section of Queens, while apparently crossing against the light. The driver, Gustavo Acosta, called police, who arrived to find the victim gone.

About two vehicles behind, though, Manual Lituma Sanchez ran over Carabajo-Jara with his van, and Carabajo-Jara became hooked to the underside of the van. Unaware of anything wrong, Lituma Sanchez drove to Brooklyn, ending up in Brighton Beach, where he worked as a delivery man, police said.

At one point, he even suspected something was wrong, pulled over and checked under the hood. But he did not look under the car.

“I didn’t feel anything, and I didn’t hear anything,” Lituma Sanchez told reporters Wednesday. “I didn’t know what happened.”

The van traveled for nearly an hour before a pedestrian alerted the driver to something dragging under the van. It was only then that Lituma Sanchez saw the body and called authorities.

Police retraced the van’s route and recovered a blue jacket believed to have belonged to the victim. Grisly surveillance video showed the body disappearing, swept underneath the van moments after being hit by the SUV. A white car is shown swerving in between.

Tears and deaths
“Everyone is crying, especially in my country,” Jara said. “Everyone is going crazy.”

It was the third death of an Ecuadorean immigrant to shock New Yorkers in a little more than three months.

Jose Oswaldo Sucuzhanay, a 31-year-old real estate agent, was walking arm in arm with his brother in Brooklyn in December when he was beaten to death in an apparent hate crime by assailants who shouted anti-Hispanic and anti-gay slurs.

That killing followed the death on Long Island of Marcelo Lucero, 37, an Ecuadorean immigrant who was fatally stabbed Nov. 8. Prosecutors allege that seven teenagers charged in Lucero’s assault had set out to attack a Hispanic person.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Man dragged 20 miles


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