All was business as usual on Manhattan Avenue Tuesday afternoon. All but the exceptionally hot weather and the flowers and candles placed beside a tree near Beata Delicatessen, a store where the late Violetta Krzyzaka will never shop again.
Monday afternoon, Krzyzaka, a 37-year-old Polish-American, died after a car thief fleeing an undercover police officer hit her with his Dodge Caravan, stolen only a few minutes earlier, as she was crossing the street. According to eyewitnesses, the impact of the crash sent Krzyzaka, a petite blonde, flying quite a distance before she landed in the middle of the Manhattan Avenue block between Huron and India Street. Beata Kalita, who owns Beata Delicatessen, said efforts were made to resuscitate her, but in vain. Krzyzaka was pronounced dead at the scene.
Kalita—wife of CB1 member Mieszko Kalita—has known Krzyzaka for about seven years. Krzyzaka used to come in to Beata daily, to buy cold cuts for her husband, soda or water for herself, rolls and other miscellaneous groceries. Krzyzaka, a friendly, easy-going woman who used to wear her hair pinned up in a bun with a clip, chatted with Kalita about the neighborhood, family, television shows and other things good friends usually chat about.
Kalita was busy inside her store when the accident happened. A woman burst inside the shop crying and shaking and yelling to call 911. Kalita knew from the woman’s extreme state that something horrible had happened. She promptly called 911 and went to the window. On the pavement not far from her store she saw a woman lying facedown, barefoot. Her glasses lay mangled on the road nearby and her blonde hair was tousled without its clip. At first Kalita didn’t recognize her friend. But when a police officer showed her an ID and asked if she knew the woman on the card, the realization dawned upon her. She was shocked. She still is.
“Her glasses and bag were in the middle of the street, her jacket was far away, she didn’t have her shoes,” said Kalita. “Everyone was calling 911.”
The 28-year-old car thief, Jose Maldonado, kept driving after he hit Krzyzaka. A few moments after killing her, Maldonado crashed his white minivan into a Jeep, causing it to roll on top of the car parked behind it due to the high speed at which he was driving. Eyewitnesses said the van was literally flying down the street. DCPI confirmed that Maldonado was driving well above the 55 mph speed limit. He was trying to flee the scene on foot when police arrested him. He was taken to Woodhull Hospital with a broken toe. Charges brought against him include vehicular manslaughter, grand larceny, leaving the scene which resulted in death, criminal negligence, homicide, and reckless driving, among others.
Krzyzaka leaves behind a 20-year old daughter and a widow.