The man convicted of running down FDNY EMT Yadira Arroyo with her own ambulance in 2017 was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without parole for the murder.
Department members are “grateful” that Arroyo’s killer Jose Gonzalez will never be on the street again, Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said in a statement released shortly after the sentencing.
“Yadira Arroyo was an extraordinary EMT who cared for her patients deeply – just as she was doing when she was brutally killed six years ago,” Kavanagh said.
“We join her family in our continued mourning of her loss and hope this sentencing can offer a pathway to healing for those who loved her. We will continue to honor her memory of service to our city.”
A Bronx jury convicted Gonzalez of first-degree murder in March for killing Arroyo, a beloved 44-year-old mother of five, when he hit her with her own ambulance during a PCP-induced rampage.
Arroyo and her partner, Monique Williams, had been on their way to an emergency call involving a pregnant woman when a passing motorist signaled to them that someone was riding on the ambulance bumper, Williams testified in February.
The pair, who were driving down White Plains Road at about 7 p.m. on March 16, 2017, pulled over to investigate, Williams said. That’s when Gonzalez ran around the rig and hopped behind the wheel.
Arroyo and Williams fought back, trying to pull the allegedly PCP-crazed man out of the driver’s seat.
“I remember her screaming, ‘Oh hell, no!’ ” Williams said of Arroyo.
But Gonzalez, a career criminal with 31 prior arrests under his belt, kicked the ambulance into gear even as he fought the two medics, Williams said.
Another witness told the court that Gonzalez reversed the ambulance, hit a car, then lurched forward into an intersection. That’s when Arroyo fell beneath the wheels.
“I lost sight of her,” said Williams, who retired the day of the horror. “When we started to go forward, I felt some tumbling underneath us.”
She found Arroyo lying still on the ground. The 14-year-medic with the FDNY later died of her injuries at the hospital.
A surveillance video recording presented by the defense showed Gonzalez walk up to the driver’s side door, open it and climb in. But an SUV obscured Arroyo falling out before the rig started to move.
An off-duty MTA police officer saw the defendant drag Arroyo before crashing into a snow bank, prosecutors said. When Gonzalez tried to flee, the officer tackled and handcuffed him with the help of several civilians.
At one point during the trial, prosecutors displayed gruesome photo evidence of the ambulance’s blood-splattered side and smashed headlight — which elicited loud gasps from the crowd of EMTs sitting in the courtroom.
Gonzalez was initially declared unfit for trial, but health professionals at Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Center reversed that decision in September.
He pleaded not guilty after his indictment.
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