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Man dragged by van was Ecuadorian father, 26

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An Ecuadorian construction worker who dreamed of building a home in his native country was mowed down by a vehicle and dragged 17 miles through Brooklyn and Queens by another Wednesday morning after being hit by one car and caught underneath a van, police and family said.

“Everyone is crying,” said Felix Jara, the cousin of Guido Carabajo-Jara, 26, who lost his life the morning after his birthday. “In my country, everybody is going crazy.”

Carabajo-Jara was crossing 108th Street on 51st Avenue in Corona just a block from his home at 6:12 a.m. Wednesday when he was struck by a 1998 Ford Expedition, police said. The SUV driver stopped and called 911, but Carabajo-Jara’s body was run over and caught in the undercarriage of red 1998 Chevrolet van headed south on 108th Street.

The van driver took the Grand Central Parkway to the Van Wyck Expressway and then went west on the Belt Parkway, winding up in the Coney Island neighborhood where he worked before noticing the body, the Associated Press said.

Jara said he planned to meet his cousin at his home on 51st Avenue at 8 a.m. that day to go to a contracting job. When he arrived, he called Carabajo-Jara, but only got voice mail. As he had a coffee in the third-floor apartment with Carabajo-Jara’s sister, Rosa, he walked out on the balcony and noticed the police activity at the intersection a few hundred feet away.

The family became worried about Carabajo-Jara after noon passed without word from him, but did not find out he was the stricken pedestrian even though they had seen surveillance camera footage of the incident on the nightly news, Jara said. Police contacted them around 11:30 p.m. after they located Carabajo-Jara’s cell phone, he said.

“I was shocked,” said Jara, 40, who helped identify the body at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn. “I didn’t believe it until I saw his face.”

Despite the gruesome details of the apparent accident, Jara said his cousin’s face was recognizable.

“There was just a little bit of scratches on the side of his face,” he said. “It looked like he was sleeping.”

The driver stopped once along the way to check the front of the van, but did not notice the body toward the rear undercarriage, the AP said. A pedestrian in Coney Island finally alerted the driver about the corpse 45 minutes after the accident occurred, the AP said.

Police did not suspect any criminality in the case.

Carabajo-Jara lived in Corona for five years, his family said. He sent money back to his wife and 4-year-old daughter in Ecuador nearly every week, Jara said, noting the family hopes to return the body to Ecuador for final burial.

Neighbor Mike Cruz, 24, said Carabajo-Jara was a hard worker who rebuilt the bathroom in the apartment Cruz shares with his father. Carabajo-Jara was preparing to build a house in Ecuador and dreamed of going back, Cruz said.

“He was always working,” Cruz said. “It’s like you would never hardly see him.”

Posted 6:35 pm, October 10, 2011
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