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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Seven dead after van plummets into rail yard bordering Bronx Zoo

Seven people - including three little girls - were killed Sunday when their van vaulted off an overpass and fell 100 feet onto wooded Bronx Zoo property, police said.

All the victims were found inside their crushed, overturned van, a white Honda Pilot, and were pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Fire Department spokesman Jim Long said the victims were an 84-year-old man; three women, aged 80, 45 and 30; and three girls, aged 12, 10 and 7.

"I've been in the fire department for 30 years. Sometimes you come up on events that are horrific," said FDNY deputy chief Ronald Werner. “This was horrific.”

The van was driving in the southbound left lane of the Bronx River Parkway around 12:30 p.m. when it glanced off the median

near exit 5, careened across three lanes of traffic and went off the edge, police said.

“It launches - airborne - over the guardrail,” a police source said.

One police source said the 45-year-old woman was driving.

A zoo employee who declined to be named said the van fell onto the southeast portion of the 265-acre zoo property.

"It's in a non-public area," she said. "No visitors, no animals and no exhibits are affected."

The Parkway was closed as officials tried to determine what caused the accident.

No other cars were believed to be involved.

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