An Edgewood man died April 1 after he was pinned underneath a car at a junkyard, leaving friends to remember him as a kindhearted, conscientious man.
Harford County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Kyle Andersen said deputies responded to the LKQ Pick Your Part Self Service Auto Parts on the 1700 block of Pulaski Highway in Edgewood on April 1 around 3:11 p.m. for the report of a person pinned underneath a vehicle. Before deputies arrived, medics with the Joppa Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company pronounced Jose Noel Monge-Alberto, 36, of Edgewood, dead.
It is unclear how Monge-Alberto became pinned underneath the vehicle, but the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner found his cause of death to be accidental last week, Andersen said. Initial investigation suggests that Monge-Alberto had been dead for several hours. At this time, there are no signs of foul-play, and the investigation is ongoing, he said.
Sheriff’s office spokesperson Cristie Hopkins said that all unattended deaths are investigated to determine if any criminal conduct led to the loss of life. Deputies critically assess the scene and the body, and witnesses are interviewed. Deaths under circumstances like Monge-Alberto’s are rare, she said, but unattended deaths — like overdoses, natural causes and accidents — are not. In 2020, the sheriff’s office responded to 281 calls for service related to unattended deaths, she said.
“Many factors can go into determining there was no foul play, but a key piece of the investigation comes from the medical examiner,” Hopkins said. “In this case, the [Office of the Chief Medical Examiner] did make a ruling as accidental.”
Family friend Gustavo Grams said that Monge-Alberto was going to the junkyard to get a part for his BMW SUV, which he worked on himself. He was skilled in repairing cars, working as a mechanic at The Master’s Auto Shop just down the street from the junkyard.
Grams said Monge-Alberto was a generous person who was well-known in the Edgewood community. When Grams did not have a place to stay in the winter, Monge-Alberto invited him into his home. And when he had nobody to celebrate New Year’s Eve with, Monge-Alberto invited him to spend it with him and his family. That was the kind of person he was, Grams said, conscientious, considerate and kind. Now, Grams is trying to help Monge-Alberto’s family deal with the aftermath.
“He was just a very responsible, very kind caring guy,” Grams said. “Everybody just loves him, and I know they are going to miss him very much.”
April 1 was a slow day at the auto shop, manager and owner Jereme Artiga said. The shop opened at 9 a.m., and the staff was waiting for a delivery of parts when Artiga got a call from Monge-Alberto at around 9:30 a.m., asking if he could swing by the junkyard down the road for some components.
As the day wore on, Artiga waited for him to return. He figured Monge-Alberto was having trouble finding the parts he needed or had to attend to something else. He called a few times, but did not hear back until the evening — when the police came to tell him what happened.
“He wasn’t just a worker, he was a friend,” Artiga said. “He got along with everybody — never had an issue.”
Monge-Alberto was one of three people who work at the auto shop, Artiga said, and his loss is felt. To go from seeing a friend and co-worker every workday — and sometimes outside of work — to never again is difficult.
“This has been very hard to deal with for us,” Artiga said.