Sunday, July 23, 2017

Pedestrian Percy Rengifo, 63, was struck and killed by a Bergen County vehicle driven by an employee of Bergen County Prosecutor's Office in the parking lot of Riverfront Plaza on South River Street in Hackensack, NJ

HACKENSACK, NJ — Percy Rengifo, who was struck and killed by a county-owned pickup truck driven by an unidentified employee of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, was a cook who loved to talk to people about food.

At least once a week, he would go to the Hackensack Liquor Store in Riverfront Plaza, on South River Street, and pick up a pack of Budweiser. On his way out, he would often talk to Santos Sheth and Tony Shah, owners of the liquor store, about his favorite topic.

“He was one of the best guys,” said Sheth. “No hassle. He was always talking about food.”

On the afternoon of July 10, as Rengifo was walking out of the liquor store and crossing the parking lot, he was struck by the pickup truck driven by a unidentified employee of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. Rengifo, 63, died the next day, but his identity was only confirmed by the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, which is leading the investigation into Rengifo's death, this week.

Percy Rengifo, 63, was struck and killed July 10 by a county vehicle driven by an employee of Bergen County Prosecutor's Office. (Photo: Courtesy of Mauricio Rengifo Munoz)

More than 30 years ago, Rengifo moved to the city from Peru. He lived here with his late wife, Carmen, and son, Percy Rengifo Jr. As a cook, he would wear slip-resistant, rubberized black Crocs designed for food service.

At the accident scene, after Rengifo had already been transported to the Hackensack University Medical Center, the Ford F35 pickup truck with county license plates sat idle. To the left of the truck was a pair of what appeared to be black rubber Crocs and cans of Budweiser were strewn across the lot.

“My brother-in-law’s shoes are there,” said Oscar Tolentino, Rengifo’s brother-in-law, referring to a photo of the scene of the accident.

Shortly after the accident, Rengifo was transported to Hackensack University Medical Center. He died from a traumatic brain injury at about 3 p.m., said Mauricio Rengifo Munoz, Rengifo’s son.

Authorities initially reported that the man later identified at Rengifo was a 61-year-old South Hackensack resident. His family confirmed that he was 63-years-old and lived in Hackensack.

Since the driver of the truck involved in the accident is a Bergen County Prosecutor's Office employee, the state Attorney General's office transferred investigative duties to the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office at the Bergen prosecutor's request to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. A records request for information surrounding the accident, including toxicology reports, was submitted to Passaic County on Tuesday by The Record and, but records were not immediately available.

Calls to the Hackensack Police Department, which is assisting Passaic County investigators, were not returned.

Information on the accident and Rengifo’s condition has been sparse and slow to come, said Tolentino. Rengifo’s family was only notified around 4 or 5 p.m., he said. Tolentino, who lives in Hackensack, said that once he and family members arrived at the hospital, they were notified that Rengifo had been intubated and taken to surgery for his brain injury.

“We don’t even know the name of the person," Tolentino said referring to the driver of the truck. "Or have a photo of the person.”

Munoz, who lives in Lima, Peru, only found out about his father’s death the next day when a cousin called him to let him know his father had been hit.

“My cousin Lucia, called me crying and asked to speak to my mother,” said Munoz. “Even at that moment, 7 a.m. in Peru, he was still intubated. He was near-death.” 


HACKENSACK, NJ — A 61-year-old man was struck in the parking lot of Riverfront Plaza on South River Street, authorities said.

Officers from the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office and the city Police Department are investigating Monday's accident.

“We were requested by the Hackensack Police to investigate an accident of a pedestrian struck in the parking lot of this place,” said William Schievella, a Bergen County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

The accident occurred in front of the Plaza Bagels Deli and Hackensack Liquors Store at about 1:30 p.m., a time when the lot is heavily traveled, Schievella said.

He also confirmed that the truck involved appeared to be a county government-owned vehicle. The Ford pickup truck, which members of the Sheriff’s Office were taking pictures of, has county government license plates. There are no other markings on the truck.

The victim was transported to Hackensack University Medical Center. Schievella could not confirm the victim’s condition. However, he confirmed that the Hackensack Police Department had reported the accident as a potentially serious injury.

Members of the Sheriff's Office's crime scene unit took photos of the scene and the agency's criminal investigation mobile unit was on scene in addition to five sheriff's office vehicles. The county's fatal accident unit also responded. There was one Hackensack Police Department vehicle on scene.

Investigators were seen searching through a Scion sedan in the plaza's parking lot.

Calls to the Hackensack Police Department were not immediately returned.