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Woman Killed by Street Sweeper

September 14, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Police were investigating Thursday how a woman was killed by a street sweeping truck that swallowed her in its brushes and knocked aside her 4-year-old daughter, who suffered minor injuries.

The woman, Felisita Sorto, 29, was crossing a street Wednesday with her daughter when she was struck and pulled under, police said. Sorto was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her daughter, Onis Morlenis-Arbaiza, was struck by one of the sweeper’s side brushes and knocked onto the sidewalk, said Geoffrey Grambo, a battalion chief with the District of Columbia Fire Department.

The child was taken to Washington’s Children’s Hospital with unspecified minor injuries and Thursday was listed in good condition, hospital spokeswoman Marissa Garis said.

Police are still investigating the incident and no charges have been filed against the driver, Ricky Scott, 43, who works for the city’s Department of Public Works, said police spokesman Sgt. Joe Gentile.

Rescue workers spent about an hour retrieving Sorto’s body from under the sweeper, Grambo said. They had to disassemble the machine’s brushes and conveyor belt after using hydraulic equipment to lift the vehicle.

Investigators looking for Sorto’s identification used rakes to sift through garbage accumulated by the sweeper, Grambo said.

It is still not clear how the accident occurred, Gentile said. The sweeper has a top speed around 20 miles per hour.

Mayor Anthony Williams went to the hospital Wednesday night to see the girl and her father, said his spokeswoman Peggy Armstrong.

She said the mayor’s office has begun looking into the safety record of the city’s sweepers.

Early this year a 71-year-old woman was struck and killed by a street sweeper vehicle in San Francisco. In July, a woman in Syracuse, N.Y. received a settlement of $435,000 for a 1998 incident when a sweeper ran her over and dragged her nearly 300 feet.

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