Vacca Calls for Thorough NYPD Inquiry Into Death of Cyclist David Oliveras

A young Bronx man was killed by the driver of a BMW SUV just after 7 p.m. last Wednesday evening. The driver was traveling northbound on Williamsbridge Road when he struck cyclist David Oliveras, who was pronounced dead at Jacobi Hospital.

Press accounts of the crash have been wildly inconsistent, and now City Council Member James Vacca is calling on NYPD to thoroughly investigate.

According to the first published account of the crash, reported by NBC, witnesses said Oliveras was mounting his bicycle, close to curb, when he was struck near the intersection of Mace Avenue.

Later accounts said that Oliveras “rode suddenly from the sidewalk onto Williamsbridge Road” (the Post), and that the crash happened closer to Waring Avenue (DNAinfo).

The unifying element in the different stories is that the driver was traveling fast and hit Oliveras with tremendous force. A witness told the Post that the impact sent the victim “flying out of his sneakers,” and witness Marilyn Portis told NBC that the driver “was going too fast, to hit him that hard.”

Police and the Bronx DA have not filed charges, and an officer in NYPD’s public information office told Streetsblog today that because “no criminality is suspected,” it suggests “driver speed was not a factor.”

The methods NYPD used to deduce that speeding didn’t contribute to the crash are unknown, and they will remain shielded from public scrutiny until the crash report can be unearthed. Pursuing the release of crash reports can be an agonizingly lengthy experience for victims’ families. For the general public, police won’t divulge the report absent a freedom of information request, followed by several months of bureaucratic delay. Once retrieved, investigative files have revealed that police blamed victims and exonerated drivers based on little more than the word of the driver or the driver’s passengers.

The crash that killed David Oliveras happened in Vacca’s district. Vacca, chair of the City Council transportation committee, recently led a joint hearing on NYPD crash investigations. He is calling for a complete inquiry from NYPD.

“Accidents like this should never happen on our streets,” Vacca said in a statement. “I would ask that the NYPD conduct a thorough investigation into the causes of the crash. This accident, like all fatal accidents between motorists and cyclists or pedestrians, deserves a thorough inquiry. The family deserves to know why this young man tragically lost his life, and if the driver killed someone while he was violating a traffic law, he should be given more than a traffic ticket.”

This crash occurred in the 49th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Deputy Inspector Kevin Nicholson, the commanding officer, head to the next precinct community council meeting. The 49th Precinct council meetings happen at 7:30 p.m. on the last Tuesday of the month, at 1913 Bronxdale Avenue. Call the precinct at 718-918-2025 for information.