Accident victim’s son: She’s ‘the strongest woman I know’

The Hampton Bays woman struck by a pickup truck in the King Kullen parking lot in Riverhead Sunday and later airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital was pronounced dead on Tuesday. 

Martha Garcia, 51, was hit by a woman driving a 2015 Chevy Silverado pickup truck in the parking lot about 12:15 p.m., according to Riverhead Town Police.

Ms. Garcia’s son, Christian Velasquez, 17, said on Wednesday that his mother was “the strongest woman I know. Now, she’s in a better place and she’s in better hands.”

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A woman who was about to enter the grocery store at the time of the incident and was the first to run over to the scene after it occurred shared what she saw on Wednesday. While she did not see the truck actually hit the woman, based on what she saw before the incident, she said what occurred was “truly an accident.”

No charges have been filed against the driver, 43-year-old Emily Hill of Riverhead. Ms. Hill’s family declined to comment.

Jean Meyer, who has lived in Riverhead and Aquebogue for the past 25 years, said she was walking into King Kullen with her husband when she let Ms. Hill pass her in front of the store as she was driving north.

“She passed us as we crossed the street,” she said. “She was not driving erratically, not fast. She literally stopped at the stop sign.”

After Ms. Hill’s Chevrolet Silverado passed her, thinking nothing of it, Ms. Meyer continued to walk inside the grocery store. But then — “I don’t know why,” she said — she turned around.

“The next thing, I heard a woman screaming,” she said.

According to Ms. Meyer — who works in the health care industry — by then, Ms. Hill was getting out of her truck. The truck had started to turn left, toward Ostrander Avenue, though it hadn’t even completed its turn.

Ms. Meyer handed her husband her pocketbook and ran over to assist.

“She was hysterical, distraught, and crying,” Ms. Meyer said of the driver. “There was another gentleman there, but then he vanished. I told them both not to touch her. It could [cause] more injury.”

Ms. Garcia was struck on the passenger side of the truck, Ms. Meyer said, and police arrived almost immediately after the incident. Ms. Hill asked Ms. Meyer to pray with her, she recalled, and police started telling her to take deep breaths to calm down.

“Then they took off in an ambulance as quick as they could,” Ms. Meyer said.

Ms. Garcia had gone to the store to get some hot dogs to grill for dinner. According to a family friend, Ms. Garcia’s mother was in the store at the time of the accident.

The last time Ms. Garcia’s son spoke to his mother was about a half hour before the accident.

“I told her I got home safe, I loved her, and I would see her later,” he said.

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