Jose Gonzalez, the 31-year-old man who, in 2017, took the wheel of an ambulance and drove over FDNY EMT Yadira Arroyo, killing her, was sentenced to life without parole by Judge Martin Marcus in the Bronx Supreme Court. The sentencing took place on Wednesday, April 26th in a courthouse that reportedly burst into applause from Arroyo’s friends, family, and colleagues who had waited for years for justice.
“It is simply impossible to overstate the horrific nature of the crime,” Judge Marcus said as he addressed Gonzalez. “As you drove backwards and forwards and turned, the tires repeatedly ran over her and crushed her body until it split down from underneath, and she was left lifeless in the intersection.”
Gonzalez was convicted of murdering Arroyo on March 16, 2017. According to details before the court, Arroyo and her partner Monique Williams were riding in their ambulance, responding to a call. While driving, the two women were made aware that there was a man riding on the rear bumper of the vehicle. When they stopped to investigate, Gonzalez managed to get behind the wheel of the ambulance, and in an effort to stop him, Arroyo grabbed the door of the vehicle. Gonzalez drove the vehicle and the gear changes he made resulted in Arroyo falling underneath the vehicle where she was run over a couple of times. Arroyo was still alive but severely injured immediately after the accident. She later succumbed to her injuries in hospital. Gonzalez, who was allegedly intoxicated by PCP and marijuana when he committed the murder, made an effort to run away but was arrested by an MTA police officer.
The journey to get justice for Arroyo’s death was long, with the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns causing delays. There was also the question of whether Gonzalez was competent to face trial. When he committed the murder, Gonzalez was reportedly under the influence of drugs. According to Law and Order, Gonzalez was initially declared incompetent to stand trial, and a psychiatric stay was declared in May 2022. However, that was changed in September 2022, when he was declared fit to stand trial. Gonzalez’s history of consistent criminal behavior is one of the reasons why it was possible for him to stand for trial. He had allegedly been arrested 31 times before he murdered Arroyo. In the aftermath of his sentencing, Gonzalez asked for forgiveness.
“I never meant to hurt anyone, I was intoxicated, please forgive me,” he reportedly said in court. “I never knew what was going on…I never meant to hurt anyone. It was an accident. I’m sorry.”
Yadira Arroyo was 44 years old and a 14-year FDNY veteran when she died. She was survived by her five children and her mother. Arroyo, whose nickname was Yadi, was known for enjoying her job and caring for the people she assisted while working. Leida Acevedo Rosado, Arroyo’s mother, wrote a letter directed at Gonzalez.
“You left five children motherless — the little one was only seven,” Rosado wrote in the letter.
“If I hate you, I will keep you here,” Rosado wrote. “And there is no place in my heart for you. This place belongs to [Yadira] and only to her. I need to forgive myself for not hating you. My fight is now with God.”
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark highlighted how it was a relief that justice had been served in what was a drawn-out case.
“Today, Jose Gonzalez was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the horrific and senseless death of Yadira Arroyo, a mother of five. It closes a long and difficult chapter for the victim’s family and her FDNY colleagues, who have waited for justice for six years,” Clark said. “Despite the sentencing, Yadi will forever be missed by her loved ones, and the pain will always be there. We take comfort in knowing that her memory will live on through her loved ones and the communities she served while working as an EMT for 14 years.”