Thursday, January 9, 2014

Parks Employees Forced To Drive "Death Trap" Vehicle

City park workers in Queens were being forced to use a 14-year-old "death trap" pick-up truck that has a multitude of safety violations including a seat belt anchored by a brick, rusted holes in floorboards with exposed brake and fuel lines,  ripped-up seats stuffed with cardboard for cushions in a dangerous vehicle that should have been taken out-of-service years ago.  Workers were also being exposed to noxious fumes and mold they say. (Photos:  Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)


By Geoffrey Croft

An out-of control Parks Department supervisor in Queens is forcing employees to drive a hazardous truck that is endangering workers and the general public park employees charge.

Several park workers say Park supervisor Yvonne Esposito was insisting employees use a dangerous vehicle with a number of serious safety violations. 

The Ford two-door pickup with more than 102, 600 miles has several large rusted holes in the floor board with exposed wires including a two foot long hole, and warn away seat cushions have partially been replaces with cardboard boxes and sponges. 

One of the rusted holes is large enough to pass a foot and leg completely though the bottom of the vehicle and onto the street. 

 credit Geoffrey Croft, NYC Parks Advocates It is a year 2000 pickup truck, working on more. Has 102,685 miles, was moved recently to a Queens park location on Union Turnpike and Frances Lewis Blvd, near 199th Street. It’s known as District 7.
Rusted holes in floorboards with exposed brake and fuel lines on the drivers side of the Parks Department 2000 Ford two-door pick up truck. Workers are being forced to drive a city vehicle more appropriate for a scape yard. 

Workers also complain of noxious fumes and mold.

And that's not all workers are forced to use a large ten pound Belgium block paving stone to hold down the seatbelt and help prevent the seat from moving forward.  

On a recent trip cardboard placed to cover up one of the holes on the driver side floor board had disintegrated and caused water from the street to splash up into the vehicle and onto exposed brake and fuel lines.

The truck was recently transferred from Flushing Meadows - Corona Park to Cunningham Park in Queens where it was being used throughout park district 7.  

Several workers also said they were afraid to speak up for fear of reprisals by Esposito. 

"I can't beleive it, what the hell is this," said Parks worker who was recently instructed to drive the dangerious truck. 

"We were told they couldn't get another truck.  She knew it was dangerous. The seat immediately came forward every time you slowed down or stopped.

. I am very upset about it but I just wanted to do my job.  We are afraid to say something.

Local 1505 Parks worker union president Dilcy Benn finally put her foot down on Friday and demanded the vehicle be taken out of service.

"All they cared about was getting the work done they didn't care about how it was done, if anyone got hurt,"  Benn said. 

The Parks Department press office did not respond despite repeated requests for comment.   


A New York City Parks Department truck that was used as recently as last week has a seat belt anchored by a brick and rusted holes in the floorboards so large that workers inside the vehicle could see straight to the ground, according to the New York Daily News.  

The Fred Flintstone-mobile is a veritable death trap — a yabba-dabba-don’t for terrified workers.

Who needs a hand? Anyone who's forced to drive this New York City Parks Department vehicle with its rusted-out floorboards.
No Magic Trick.  A parks worker puts his hand through the rusted floor board of the truck on the drivers side.

 “I got people who could be killed being forced to use this vehicle, and there’s no accountability,” said Dilcy Benn, president of Local 1505, the union that represents city Parks workers.

 The 2000 dark-green Ford pickup — adorned with the Parks Department logo — has 102,695 miles on it, and it is clearly a rough ride. The floorboards are eaten by rust on both the driver and passenger sides. The truck has exposed brake and fuel lines running underfoot and ripped-up seats stuffed with cardboard for cushions.

Two workers were told to use the pickup truck last week to spread salt around Queens’ parks ahead of the snowstorm. The pair took one look at the rusty wreck and tried to beg off. But their supervisor, according to Benn, forced them to use the truck.

 “A supervisor picked this vehicle up at another borough garage, drove it to Queens and gave it to workers in this condition and was not held accountable,” said Benn.

“I don’t want my workers driving a death trap.” A Parks Department spokesman said the truck — officially known as vehicle 5719Q — was taken out of service for repairs after Benn called with concerns.

A two-foot-long hole on the pasenger side, and (below) ripped-up seats stuffed with cardboard for cushions.  (click on images to enlarge)

“My workers were already out in the vehicle dropping salt, and I had to call back three times before the supervisor finally took it out of service,” said Benn.

The agency says vehicles are removed from the fleet on a case-by-case basis, depending on specific conditions. Drivers are required to inspect vehicles before using them and report any safety or mechanical issues, the spokesman said. The agency’s fleet of 579 pickup trucks have two maintenance inspections annually in addition to a state motor vehicle inspection, he added. The average age of the fleet’s pickups is eight years, city officials said.

According to Benn, union members have had problems with poorly maintained Parks vehicles before.

In May 2012, veteran Parks worker Curly Robinson, 63, was nearly mowed down when an agency van he left idling popped its gear and rolled toward him. Robinson said he was thrown against another truck and then dragged several feet before the runaway van stopped.

“I had problems with that truck slipping gears all the time. It was never fixed, and it always was put back in service,” said Robinson, who added he was forced to retire for medical reasons after the accident.

The Parks spokesman confirmed that a van with the same identification number provided by Robinson was in an accident on that date and at that location but no other details were available. Auto safety expert Byron Bloch reviewed the pictures of the rusted Ford truck and said it raised questions about Parks’ maintenance efforts.

A brick is all that’s holding down the seat belt in this battered New York City Parks Department pickup.
Parks workers used a ten pound Belgium block paving stone to hold down the seatbelt  as well as to help prevent the seat from moving forward while driving.

“I would not go into that truck, it’s a definite hazard and should be taken off the road,” said Bloch. “It’s actually an embarrassment and tells me there’s terrible maintenance of the vehicle.”

The extensive corrosion of the floorboards posed the biggest risk, he said. It indicated a weakened structure that would buckle easily on impact.

“That could turn a survivable crash into a fatality,” he noted.

Geoffrey Croft of NYC Park Advocates said the poorly maintained vehicle was an accident waiting to happen.

"It’s unconscionable that the city would put their own people and the public in such danger,” he said. “This is outrageous, and the people responsible must be held accountable.”

This New York City Parks Department truck literally has the stuffing knocked out of it.
The interior of the pick-up truck reveals a multitude of safety violations including rusted holes in floorboards with exposed brake and fuel lines,  ripped-up seats stuffed with cardboard for cushions.

Read More:    

PARKS & WRECK! City crews' death trap truck has seat belts
 anchored by bricks, rusted holes in floorboards 
NYC Parks Dept. truck seems a death trap with crumbling floor, seat belts 
New York Daily News - January 9, 2014 - By Ginger Adams Otis


  1. Yvonne Esposito is a mean woman that has bullied Parks workers for years, thank you for the expose.

  2. I cannot understand how anyone can consciously allow ANYONE to drive this vehicle. It is clearly not just to the driver but also to anyone else on or around the road its driving on. What would have happened if that brick came forward when breaking at a red light, got stuck under the break pedal and caused its driver not to be able to stop and run over a mother and two kids? So many people could have fallen victim to this hazard on the road. This Yvonne Esposito lady is clearly not suitable for her position. If she is forcing people to drive this truck, what else is she doing wrong?? Corruption is never good, clearly this is terrible, she should be held accountable for her incopitence. She is a danger to everyone! She should be let go for good.

  3. It's a terrible thing when a supervisor abuses their power and puts workers at risk with no concern for staff or others.

  4. If they're supervisor authorizing the use of such vehicles then they shouldn't really be supervises this is totally unacceptable

  5. This is totally unacceptable for city vehicle Parks Dept. vehicles often break down within weeks from return of a repair shop in spite of worker inspections

  6. This is actually comical... This woman was serious?!?! Sounds personal to me. Either way, no regard for safety...wrong in every faccet. She should definitely be held accountable. Complete nonsense.

  7. I wonder what would of happened if someone would of actually got injured or died due to her negligence.Would she then be prosecuted for vehicular manslaughter and/or negligence?

  8. So basically what you're telling me that if I see a parks truck on the road, I should stay as far away from it as possible? Got it.

  9. The current condition of the trucks should be monitored and inspected regularly by the person assigned to drive it. More importantly, why isn't the person who is assigning the vehicle inspecting those vehicles?? And if they were properly inspecting the vehicle, why the hell would someone assign this vehicle to another human being?? Its dangerous and could have cost so many people their lives. Definitely unconsciousable.

  10. Parks Auto mechanics re-assigned to other agencies. No money in parts budget for in house repairs by the few skilled mechanics that are left. Parks 5-Boro upholstery shop , Gone! Parks in-house Body shop, Gone! Most repairs , when and if done, are sent to FOR PROFIT repair pirates. The more things break and are repaired poorly the more $$$ is made be the pirates. How much was Management LEANING of the supervisor to get the job DONE. How few were the choices of good working vehicles available for use in this park?

  11. Why aren't all these people being fired and brought up on charges?

    Wouldn't it be wonderful if one day the elected officials actually cared about the pubic safety of its workers and demanded accountability.

    And how is it that Yvonne Esposito was able to get away with being her husband's supervisor all those years, and not to mention paying out a vehicle deferential that he was not entitled to! Isn't that called theft? Where is DOI?

    One final thought: Yvonne Esposito Eric Goetz quite a pair.

  12. Eric Goetz hasn't worked in District 7 for over a year

    1. and his negative impact will not be forgotten anytime soon...

    2. Hummm let's see... what are the odds that Liam Kavanagh, David Stark and Bob Garafola are fighting over who is going to nominate Dilcy Benn for an employee of the month award for helping to save lives, or are they scrambling around trying to cover up yet another embarrassing episode.

      Sadly we all know the answer to that.

      And what about the rest of the Union? Where are the loud voices supporting the public disclosing of this inexcusable public safety matter and making sure our public workers are safe.

      Obviously this isn't the only truck that has safety issues in the agency. To make matters worse we have dozens if not hundreds of new trucks sitting around in lots while our workers are being forced to drive around these. This is ridiculous on so many levels.

      Once again it's about accountability.

      Thank goodness Adrain "Pinocchio" Benepe was finally fired but without a having a mayor who cares about accountability nothing will change.

      Mayor de blasio where are you?

  13. So if this woman is corrupt, giving out overtime to her husband and heavy machinery money to her husband, why wasn'tshe already fired?? Isnt that considered fraud? Theft? Conspiracy?? And if that's the case, why wasn't she fired and brought up on REAL criminal charges? The obvious oversight of proper consequence has allowed this woman to continue to do things wrong!! Does someone need to die for her to get the ax? My opinion, she needs a pink slip...asap.

  14. It is so crazy ... Look at what people can get away with these days. I bet ahe wasn't even fired. Great example to set for future supervisors; put people's life in jeopardy , break rules, match top the best of ur own drum, never follow procedure and KEEP UR JOB!! where are the consequences to her actions????? Absolutely crazy.