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Driver Facing Charges As Fuel Truck Strikes, Kills Bicyclist In Brooklyn

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A woman riding her bike to work was killed after she was struck by a fuel truck Tuesday morning in Brooklyn.

As CBS2's Ilana Gold reported, the driver is facing charges.

Grieving friends lit candles at Hart Street and Evergreen Ave on Tuesday night, marking the spot where 27-year-old Leah Sylvain was struck and killed.

"Still in knots, stomach is still in knots," Matthew Diaz said.

Police and paramedics rushed to the scene at the Bushwick intersection at 7:30 a.m. When they arrived, they found the mangled bicycle in the roadway and the woman with severe head trauma stuck under the wheels of the fuel truck.

Sylvain, an artist, was going to work at the Brooklyn Naval Yards when she was struck by a fuel truck. Her red bike was mangled at the scene.

"It was very said to wake up this morning to that news. It's terrible, she was a sweet, kind, hardworking, young girl," Miriam Diaz said.

Anthony Cherry said his father was behind the wheel of the truck and stopped immediately when they heard a loud "boom."

"We thought we hit a car and it was actually person," said Cherry, who was in the passenger seat of the truck at the time of the crash. "I was so traumatized. I freaked out."

Police said she was in the bike lane heading north on Evergreen Avenue and was struck by the truck -- which was going in the same direction -- as it turned left at the intersection onto Hart Street.

Investigators told CBS2 that Sylvain got pulled underneath the truck.

She was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Authorities said Sylvain had the right-of-way when she was hit.

The 52-year-old truck driver, Joseph Cherry, was taken into custody on several charges, including failure to yield.

Online records show that Cherry runs the Emp Fuel Oil Company. His son said they were making a delivery when the accident happened.

"I don't want them to put my father in jail, because he didn't do anything," Anthony said.

Police said Cherry was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The investigation is ongoing.

Caroline Samponaro, with the pedestrian and bicyclist advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, said this is a textbook example of what happens too often.

"Every 38 hours a New Yorker is killed in a traffic crash," Samponaro told 1010 WINS' Roger Stern. "We can do better than that as a city."

Twenty-four hours earlier, a pedestrian was struck and killed by an SUV in a Manhattan crosswalk.

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