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Female pedestrian killed in Leonia identified as Palisades Park restaurant owner

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

UPDATE: Authorities this afternoon confirmed that a pedestrian who was killed this morning in Leonia when she was struck and dragged by a mini school bus taking a teenager to summer camp was the owner of a popular Palisades Park restaurant.

“Everyone here is taken back by this,” a Palisades Park borough employee told CLIFFVIEW PILOT this morning. “It’s such a shame.

“A wonderful lady,” he said. “There’s not a thing she wouldn’t do for you.

“It’s terrible when anything like this happens to anyone. But when you know the person, and it’s someone like her …. Many of us have known her for years. We’re all pretty shaken up.”

Leyla Kan, 60, of Fort Lee, who owned the Picnic Cafe with her husband, was struck as she crossed Broad Avenue on Fort Lee Road in Leonia just after 8:15 a.m.

The driver, 43-year-old Esperanza Jaramillo of Tenafly, was headed east on Fort Lee Road and turned left onto northbound Broad when her rear side of the Rainbow Transportation Inc. (Bergenfield) mini bus hit Kan, who had the right of way, Leonia Police Chief Thomas Rowe said.

Kan’s foot got snagged by the rear driver’s side tire and she was dragged more than 70 feet, he said.

Witnesses told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that other motorists screamed at the driver, who apparently wasn’t aware of what happened at first.

The bus then pulled to the northbound curb of Broad Avenue. A teenager and his aide were also onboard, authorities said.

Police gave Jaramillo a summons for failing to yield, careless driving and operating a vehicle with bald tires, the police chief said. She was taken to Englewood Hospital and Medical Center to be treated for trauma, he said.

Rowe said there was no evidence that either Kan or the driver were on cellphones at the time of the crash.

The Kans opened the Mediterranean-American Picnic Cafe 25 years ago — a mile and a half down Broad Avenue from the crash scene. It was a local institution under the loving hand of Kan.

“She was a gracious lady,” Leonia resident Pamela Malone said, calling Kan’s death “a sad loss for our community.”

Leonia police were joined by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Fatal Accident Investigations Unit, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, Bergen County Police officers, Englewood Hospital and Medical Center paramedics and borough firefighters.

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