As Argelio “Petey” Marrero made his way across the intersection near 51st Street and Tonnelle Avenue last July 4 he had no idea his life was seconds away from its end. At 12:35 a.m. Marrero, 40, stepped into the intersection and was struck by a car. The driver, Charlie Ostani Buno, 70, was driving a black SUV and allegedly had a blood alcohol level of .09, just above New Jersey’s legal limit.
A gas station attendant who witnessed the accident said he heard a loud thud and witnessed Marrero’s body land 100 feet from the point of impact. Bruno was charged with vehicular homicide and held on $200,000 bail.
After being taken to the hospital, Marrero was pronounced dead an hour later.
A city’s honor
Almost a year later, Marrero’s life and memory are to be honored by Union City. A resolution passed May 7 will name a skate park, located on 39th Street between Bergen Turnpike and Kennedy Boulevard, as Argelio “Pete” A. Marrero Morales Skate Park.
Marrero happened to be one of the main proponents for the construction of the park, according to his mother, Isabel Diaz.
“He asked Mayor Brian Stack for years to build a skate park in Union City.” Marrero was a lifelong skater and spent his youth riding around town with a group of other skaters from around Harrison Place in Union City.
As he grew up, he was said to be very creative and wanted to pursue a career as a chef in California. The family suggested he stay because he knew no one in California.
“He was a very involved individual who loved his community,” said Mrs. Diaz.
He was often spotted walking around taking photos throughout the city.
“This is a safe haven for the kids to go and stay out of the street” – Lita Cruz
Mayor Stack knew Marrero, and he approached the family about naming the park after him since he had been so involved in its creation.
“The mayor asked what he could do for the family at my son’s viewing and suggested naming the park after my son,” said Mrs. Diaz. Commissioner Lucio Fernandez brought up the resolution which was approved unanimously.
“I believe this is a great honor to remember Marrero, and what better place than in his hometown,” said Fernandez. “His family is very involved in this process.”
Posthumous birthday present
The ceremony to officially name the park is set to take place on Saturday June 22, which happens to be Marrero’s birthday.
The 8,000 square foot park constructed back in 2007 was the first of its kind in Union City, and doubles as a basketball park as well. The basketball side of the park consists of two full courts with lights and a passive area with benches and water fountains.
When asked if they knew the park was being named after a victim of a drunk driver, local skaters seemed to embrace the idea considering the circumstances for the park being chosen.
“I don’t think the park ever had a name” said Josh, a local BMX rider. “The guys around here call it the, ‘3-9’,” in reference to the street it is on and the nearby housing development.
“That’s a great honor they are doing for the victim,” said Lita Cruz, a mother whose children play in the park. “This is a safe haven for the kids to go and stay out of the street, god forbid an accident like Marrero’s happens again.”
Christian Diaz may be reached at ChristianD@hudsonreporter.com.