Under sunny skies, the family and friends of George Gibbons watched as the intersection of Mt. Olivet Crescent and 60th Drive was renamed George Gibbons Jr. Way.
“Those of us who knew George knew he was a man of integrity and had a huge heart,” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley. “It took just a few seconds for an awful act to take away such a great man.”
Early in the morning on October 15, 2011, Gibbons was riding in a livery cab on the LIE service road near 58th Road when it was struck by another vehicle going the wrong way, killing Gibbons.
The incident was covered heavily in the press, as the man driving the other car, Peter Rodriguez, fled the scene and was on the loose for over a month. Because Rodriguez did not stay at the scene and no alcohol or drug test was administered, he actually got a lighter sentence because it could not be proven that he was under the influence at the time of the accident.
He was eventually sentenced to 3 ½ to seven years in prison.
The death of Gibbons inspired a City Council resolution calling for stiffer penalties for those who leave the scene of an accident. At the ceremony Saturday, Crowley praised the community for constantly keeping pressure on investigators to find Rodriguez.
“When this coward was on the loose, you came together as a community to bring about justice,” she said.
Gibbons grew up in a house just steps from the intersection that now bears his name. He was an active member of the community, raising money each year to support the American Cancer Society, fundraising for local school and churches, and working with the Wounded Warrior Project.
For years, he was in charge of running the 60th Drive summer block parties. Gibbons came from a large Irish family, many of whom were on hand Saturday.
“There are no words to express the overwhelming gratitude we feel for the support of the community,” said sister Siobhan Gibbons McEntee, who still lives on 60th Drive. “We hope that his sign will tell the story of George.”