Jorge Jimenez, a grandfather and father who was remembered for his caring nature, was identified as the man who was struck and killed by Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim.
In his final moments, Jimenez was trying to keep his friends safe, his family wrote in tributes. (Boeheim received a standing ovation at the Duke game on February 23, 2019.)
Syracuse Police and Onondaga County DA Bill Fitzpatrick held a news conference to discuss the tragedy. Syracuse police said they held the press conference to “inform the public” about the collision, which occurred on February 20, 2019 at 11:22 p.m. on Interstate 690 east near Thompson Road in the City of Syracuse. Also speaking at the press conference was Lt. David Brown of the Syracuse police traffic section. Police described Boeheim as cooperative, not impaired, and not likely to face criminal charges. The crash occurred on a dark stretch of road with no streetlights. Authorities underscored the tragic nature of Jimenez’s loss.
Jimenez was 51-years-old.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Jorge Jimenez, Who Hails From Cuba, Was Out Buying Cigarettes
Chief Kenton Buckner, at the news conference, said that “our thoughts and prayers go out to the Jimenez family and friends.” The chief revealed some details of Jorge Jimenez’s background, revealing: “We have learned that the Jimenez family is from Cuba and are largely Spanish speakers.” Syracuse.com reported that Jimenez was from Las Tunas, Cuba.
The chief said that the family of Jimenez is devastated by his loss, saying his life was “snatched away.” He then read a short statement in Spanish.
According to Syracuse.com, Jimenez was out buying cigarettes with family when the tragedy occurred.
Social media filled up with Spanish-language tributes to Jimenez. “Rest in peace my brother may God have you in the place you deserve as a good friend that you were, good father and son, you will always be in our hearts,” wrote one man.
2. Jimenez Was Remembered By His Daughter as a Man With Many Friends Who Loved Dancing
Loved ones remembered Jorge Jimenez in interviews as a good and sociable person.
“My father was a man who was very sociable, very happy. He loved to help everybody without question,” Yurisandy Jimenez Arrastre told Syracuse.com. “He loved having friends. Everybody loved him because of his way of being: Going to the casino, listening to music, dancing…” In addition to his daughter, he has two sons.
She also told the newspaper, “He loved his family very much. He was very clean and he loved to cook and invite the family to eat together. He made many jokes always to his grandkids.”
Jimenez had lived in Syracuse for two decades, according to the news site. A friend wrote in Spanish: “It is definitely a very big loss 😭😭😭😭 for all of us with a lot of pain my God… his soul we will always take you in our hearts. Jorge Jimenez we stay with the best of you, your memories, amen 🙏❤.”
3. Jimenez’s Family Stressed That He Got Out of the Car to ‘Save His Friends’
“He was a sincere, caring person,” said Brian Hernandez, who was raised by Jimenez, to CNYCentral.
On Facebook, Brian Hernandez shared a news story about Jorge and wrote, “IM TIRED OF EVERYONE GIVING OPINIONS IF U DONT KNOW SH*T! He got out to save his friends plus the car was gonna catch on fire, WHICH IT DID.”
In a heart-wrenching post, he revealed:
Last night I received the news about my my dad being in accident and getting hit by a car. No words can describe the pain me and my family are going through. He was a fun, outgoing, high spirit person. His personality was unique, everyone knew him and knows he was a great person that always cared about his close friends and family. And would give anything you needed to help out. I wish I coulda see him again just to tell him how much I love him ❤️. I would write more but I’m still processing all this, its too much. Thank you for everyone for sending your condolence. I Love u Dad 🇨🇺 #Jorgito #TeQuiero
The comment thread filled up with well wishes. “Sorry for your lost I knew him and he was a great guy this is crazy I just seen him the other day,” wrote one man.
Hernandez also shared an initial news story on the tragedy, writing, “My dad, lord help me and my family.”
4. Jimenez Was an Occupant in a Car That Hit a Guardrail, Police Say
On Wednesday, February 20, 2019, Syracuse police responded to a report of a crash. They found the 51-year-old victim, Jimenez, of Syracuse, who had been struck by a vehicle, Chief Buckner revealed.
He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Jimenez was an occupant in a vehicle that lost control and struck a guardrail, said the chief. The occupants then exited the vehicle and proceeded to walk on the highway in close proximity to that vehicle, Buckner said. He said it’s believed the victim’s car hit a patch of ice.
There was a second man with minor injuries because he was hit by a mirror during the same incident. He was also an occupant of the same car as Jimenez. The vehicle was blocking the entire center lane and most of the left lane of the highway, said Brown. He described the “darkness of the night” and said that all would make it “very difficult to see that vehicle.” Boeheim told police he “swerved around the vehicle in an attempt to not strike it.”
An oncoming vehicle noticed the disabled car and tried to avoid the vehicle, which was in the middle of the road. As a result, the driver, James Boeheim, 74, who was driving another vehicle, struck Jorge Jimenez, who was crossing to the median, according to the police chief. Both drivers remained at the scene and were cooperative, he said.
5. The Syracuse Chief Called Jimenez’s Death a ‘Tragedy’
The chief said the weather and conditions may have played some role in it all, but that’s still under investigation.
“This is a tragedy….Mr. Jimenez has lost his life…we really have an accident where someone was killed that unfortunately involved a high-profile person in our community,” said the police chief.
He added that Boeheim tried to render aid, and tried to stop other cars. “He did exactly what we would ask him to do,” said the chief. “He could not have been more cooperative.”
Field sobriety and alcohol tests for both drivers were negative, and there were no signs of impairment, said the police chief.
Boeheim was one of those people who contacted police to report the tragedy, said Buckner, who added that authorities received multiple calls. They interviewed two of the three occupants in the victim’s vehicle, and they interviewed Boeheim. “We have no reason to believe either driver was impaired at the time of the incident,” he said.
There is still investigation to be completed, said Buckner. There will be a reconstruction of the scene and mechanics of the crash, he said.
“At this time we have no reason to believe there will be criminal charges,” said the chief, although the final decision rests with the district attorney. Boeheim was in his car alone, he said, adding that there were four people in the Jimenez vehicle, but he didn’t know the relationship among those people and victim.
He didn’t release where Boeheim was before the crash. He was on his way home. Boeheim, who was described as “absolutely devastated,” was interviewed at the scene.