Photo: Did Cyber Love Gone Bad Lead to Hit & Run Death on Honduran Man in Queens
Police are still investigating the hit-and-run death of a Honduran man in New York last week, a death the man’s family believes may have something to do with an online relationship gone bad.
Jose Padilla-Argueta, 35, had only been in Queens four months when he was hit by a vehicle Thursday.
Authorities say a battered Padilla-Argueta was dumped in a Queens intersection without his phone, wallet, ID, or shoes. Officials believe Padilla-Argueta was struck by a hit-and-run driver who likely then loaded the wounded man into his vehicle, but had second thoughts and dumped him elsewhere.
Padilla-Argueta was found in the intersection unconscious bleeding, and barely alive just before dawn Thursday morning. He died a short time later.
Though police believe it was hit-and-run incident, his family thinks something more sinister was at play. Padilla-Argueta’s family thinks he was tricked into meeting someone he thought was a potential love interest he met online.
His niece, Tiffany Martinez, told NY Daily News, ‘You know how guys will be guys; they want to meet new girls. They meet girls on the Internet, but it is not who they think it is.’
Asked about the police’s theory of it just being a dump after a hit-and-run incident, Martinez said, ‘Something very bad happened. His body was all messed up. But the police haven’t told us anything… (We) just want to know who did this to him.’
Surveillance footage captured near where Padilla-Argueta was dumped - the intersection of 230th Place and Lansing Avenue - show a damaged white Volkswagen GTI heading east on Lansing Avenue. Police say the car had a broken windshield, a damaged front bumper, broken headlight, and partially damaged roof - all on the passenger’s side.
Police are now looking for the driver of that vehicle and are asking the public to contact the authorities with any information related to the case. Anyone with information is urged to contact CrimeStoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477) or send tips to www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.
Padilla-Argueta, who worked at JFK Airport, had three children, all of whom are in Honduras.