Two Traffic Fatalities: One a Homicide, the Other an “Accident”

Two people died in separate but similar motor vehicle crashes in the city over the weekend. The drivers accused of causing the deaths of Robert Pelicone, 22, and Julia Thomson, 24, were both speeding; both fled after their respective crashes; and both drivers were soon arrested and charged with DWI and leaving the scene.

juliathomson.jpgThe cases differ in two crucial respects. The driver involved in the crash that killed Pelicone was also charged with criminally negligent homicide; the driver identified as Thomson's killer was not. Pelicone was a passenger in the wrecked vehicle; Thomson was a pedestrian trying to cross the street.

This is no isolated instance, of course. Just last week a Greenwich Village pedestrian was killed by a driver charged with driving under the influence of drugs, but was not charged for killing 28-year-old aspiring actress Hope Miller.

On September 4, a driver arrested for running down and killing 7-year-old Christian Acteopan was charged with leaving the scene; another driver who hit Acteopan after the first vehicle stayed at the scene and was not charged.

On September 1, Ismael Mercado, 47, was "accidentally" run over on West 54th Street by a driver who was not charged.

The list goes on. The circumstances of each death are inherently different, and details are often not known or are overlooked, in part because of the way they are reported by the media or recorded by police. But the deaths of Mr. Pelicone and Ms. Thomson, assuming no additional charges are brought, offer a chilling snapshot of how city police and prosecutors value, and devalue, human life based on whether one is or is not inside an automobile.

Photo of Julia Thomson via New York Daily News