Delivery Cyclists Bore Brunt of Brooklyn Truck Rampage

From the time that YiJie Ye moved to the United States from China about 18 years ago, he did whatever he could to provide for his three teenage children — twin boys and a girl. A single parent, he collected cans with his mother, his neighbors in Brooklyn said, until he saved enough to buy a bike and start delivering food about three years ago.

On Monday, Mr. Ye, 44, was completing an order when he was struck by a driver barreling down sidewalks and roads in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He was hit at Bay Ridge Parkway and Fifth Avenue and suffered head injuries, the police said, and was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after.

He was one of eight people — on foot, bikes, mo-peds and electric bikes — who were struck by the driver during the hour he drove through Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, leaving devastation in his wake. A police officer was also injured.

The police did not name the victims, but Mr. Ye was identified by his cousin, Michael Chen, and another victim, Mohammed Zakaria Salah Rakchi, 36, who is in a medically induced coma, was identified by his wife.

Mr. Chen described his relative as someone who “tried his best to raise his three teenagers.”

“This tragic accident shattered their American dream,” Mr. Chen wrote in a text message on Tuesday. “Our family members are heartbroken by his death.”

YiJie Ye’s death broke the hearts of his relatives, a cousin said.Credit…via Michael Chen

On Tuesday, Weng Sor, 62, was charged with one count of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder, said James Essig, the Police Department’s chief of detectives. Investigators believe Mr. Sor was “suffering from a mental health crisis,” Chief Essig said at a news conference.

Mr. Sor, who had been living with his mother in Las Vegas, traveled to West Palm Beach, Fla., where he rented the U-Haul truck on Feb. 2, Chief Essig said. He was driving that vehicle two weeks later when he saw “an invisible object” in front of him, Chief Essig said

“I’ve had enough,” Mr. Sor said to himself, according to Chief Essig. “Then he goes on his rampage.”

Mr. Sor’s arrest Monday was not his first encounter with law enforcement. His criminal history includes eight prior arrests, Chief Essig said, including one for reckless driving and marijuana possession in South Carolina on Feb. 5, while he was on his way to New York.

The following day, he was in Brooklyn, where he stopped by the home of his estranged wife and son and showered, Chief Essig said.

He returned two days later, showered again and left after fighting with his son, the police said. That same day, officers stopped him on the Belt Parkway and gave him summonses for speeding and driving a commercial vehicle.

He drove the U-Haul into New Jersey on Sunday before returning to Brooklyn.

From what the police were able to piece together in the hours following the mayhem, at 10:20 a.m. on Monday, the U-Haul truck hit the first victim, a 34-year-old man riding his bicycle along 55th Street and Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said at the Tuesday news conference.

The driver careened down Bay Ridge Parkway and up and down streets and avenues in Bay Ridge and Sunset Park, before he was cornered and arrested near the entrance to the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel.

Mayor Eric Adams said Tuesday that he had visited the families of two victims and had spoken with Mr. Ye’s family. He described the incident as “despicable.”

“A father was raising his children, young children, and he was the one that died in this incident,” Mr. Adams said at a news conference in Queens.

Valerie Costa, 72, a neighbor, said Mr. Ye was a “calm quiet guy” who was “always helping around the house.”

“I’m devastated,” she said.

Most, if not all, of the victims on Monday were immigrants and people in working-class families, said Justin Brannan, a City Council member who represents Bay Ridge. The community was shocked on Monday, but those feelings had turned to “just anger” by the next day, he said.

“These are just salt-of-the-earth people,” Mr. Brannan said. “A lot of immigrant families just doing their thing during the day, going from Point A to Point B.”

On Monday morning, Mr. Rakchi, an Algerian native who was also a delivery cyclist, had dropped his 7-year-old daughter at school before he was struck by Mr. Sor. Mr. Rakchi is also the father of a 3-year-old boy.

Mohammed Zakaria Salah Rakchi came to New York from Algeria.Credit…via The Cochran Firm

His wife, Nadjet Tchenar, who moved with Mr. Rakchi from North Africa about three years ago, said a friend called her on Monday to say her husband had been in an accident but was fine. By the time she reached the hospital, he was in critical condition.

At a news conference Tuesday, Ms. Tchenar stood with her attorney, Derek Sells, who described Mr. Rakchi’s grave condition: massive head trauma and fractured ribs and legs.

“I can’t describe my feelings now,” Ms. Tchenar said in an interview. “It’s like a bad dream.”

Jeffery C. Mays, Brittany Kriegstein and Maria Cramer contributed reporting.

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