STATEN ISLAND (PIX11)—The tears haven't stopped on Elizabeth Street a day after 56-year-old neighborhood matriarch Clara Almazo was allegedly mowed down and killed a block from her home by a man cops are calling a hit-and-run driver, 40-year-old Brian McGurk. The church-going grandmother with the large family will be remembered by many as a hero.
Almazo was walking home from church with one of her several daughter and her 8-year-old grandson Brian before 10 pm Thursday night, when she was struck by the Ford Escape. Seconds before she was struck, she pushed young Brian out of harm's way, saving his life.
Neighbor Grace Rignola lives across the street from where the crash happened, "The little boy looked shocked, he looked shocked, and nervous, and cold."
Frank Hernandez is Almazo's son in-law. He says Brian is recovering in a nearby hospital from a broken bins, and still doesn't know his grandmother is dead.
Police are looking at surveillance video taken from a house on the block to see if McGurk was speeding, as some say. McGurk was charged with leaving the scene. He couldn't make bail and is spending the night in jail. Cops say he waited 3 hours to turn himself in. No one answered the door at his Westerleigh home, but the Ford Escape parked outside, smashed from the impact, tells the tale of a life cut short, of a woman who selflessly pushed her grandson to safety, setting aside her life for his.
McGurk made headlines last year when he won a legal case against his ex-wife, after he found evidence online she'd been belly dancing, although she claimed she was disabled and couldn't work. A judge ruled in his favor that he no longer had to pay her $850 a month alimony.