A 58-year-old woman was struck and killed by a sanitation truck in the Chelsea area of Manhattan Wednesday as she tried to protect her pet Boston terrier after the dog ran under the vehicle, police said.
Jacqueline Haeflinger, an events coordinator at New York University, was walking her dog Violet about 10 a.m. on West 15th Street near Seventh Avenue when the terrier got loose near the truck as it was backing up, according to witnesses and police.
Haeflinger, a Manhattan resident, appeared to duck under the truck to retrieve her dog when she was hit by the sanitation vehicle, officials said. The dog was unharmed.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Sanitation confirmed that one of the agency trucks was involved in the accident and that the matter was under investigation.
Neighbor Joanna Kunze, 36, stepped in to take custody of Violet afterward. "I was there at the time of the accident," Kunze said. "I wish I didn't see what I saw. It was terrible."
Barbara Edelstein, who used to walk Violet in the afternoons while Haeflinger took care of her in the morning, was visibly shaken. "That was her baby," Edelstein said of Violet.
NYU spokesman John Beckman said in a statement that Haeflinger was a loved and valued member of the school staff.
"She was a devoted, longtime member of the NYU community whom many of us -- myself included -- knew well and admired . . . for her hard work and exacting standards," Beckman said. "We are all coming to terms with the sudden news. We shall miss her."
With Zoë Lake