The Maspeth community came together on Saturday to celebrate the life of one of its own killed in a tragic hit and run two years ago and to see the new street sign that will bear his name.
George Gibbons Jr. was only 37 years old when Peter Rodriguez, the driver police said was drunk, came down the wrong way of the Long Island Expressway service road. He smashed head-on into the cab that Gibbons was in. Gibbons was rushed to Elmhurst Hospital and pronounced dead on arrival. Gibbons had just closed up the bar he owned, The Gibbons Home on 69th Street, and was heading home.
The beloved Maspeth resident was spoken highly of at the event. A tragic case of a good life taken too soon, he left an impact on the entire community, neighbors said.
Maureen Gibbons, George’s sister, said that “He really loved this block and no matter where he moved, no matter where he lived, he always called 60th Drive home.”
Since Mayor Bloomberg signed the legislation in July that co-named 60th Drive off Mount Olivet Crescent as “George Gibbons Jr. Way” the community has been waiting for the unveiling.
“George was a beloved member of this community and his death really showed the need for tougher laws on drunk driving as well as fleeing the scene of a crime,” Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) stated.
The victim’s father also spoke about his son and what it meant to his family to see that sign uncovered.
“It’s a terrific honor for the family to have the block co-named George Gibbons Jr. Way,” said Gibbons. “George lived on the block and he was a great person. He was a DJ and used to run all the block parties. He used to DJ all around Queens and he was well-known and loved by all.”
His friend, Tony Kaplin, said “George was like a brother, he would give you the shirt right off his back if you needed it.”
The family and friends of the Gibbons family came together after that tragic event and raised $10,000 for information leading to the whereabouts of their dear friend’s murderer. After he fled the scene, his face was put on posters all over Queens. The manhunt ended three weeks later in Connecticut. Rodriguez was sentenced to three and a half to seven years in prison.
Since that fatal night, the Gibbons family has worked with Crowley to increase penalties for leaving the scene of a crime.