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In Memoriam

When the book is written on the fight for traffic justice in New York City, an entire chapter might well be devoted to 2012.

This was the year when Commissioner Ray Kelly’s NYPD revealed to the City Council that only a handful of officers are assigned to investigate serious traffic crashes. The public learned that, per department policy, the majority of crashes are handled by precinct cops who are trained and authorized to fill in boxes on a form, and nothing more, effectively denying the possibility of justice to thousands who suffer life-altering injuries at the hands of motorists each year. That this policy is in violation of state law [1] apparently mattered not at all to the police commissioner, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, or Albany.

In 2012, victims whose lives were ended by reckless drivers ranged in age from 2 to 92. Two small [2] boys [3] were fatally struck as their horrified and helpless parents looked on. A high school football player [4] with college prospects was run over by two drivers while riding his bike. A veteran UPS man [5] on his regular rounds was crushed to death on a sidewalk. A grandmother of 22 [6] who survived Auschwitz was killed by a driver in pursuit of a parking spot.

It was a landmark year for institutional failure. A spike in traffic fatalities [7] coincided with a marked drop in NYPD enforcement. Criminal cases against killer motorists were wrecked by police [8]prosecutors [9]judges [10], and juries [11]. Standing on a city street corner, the U.S. secretary of transportation wrongly blamed most pedestrians for their own deaths [12]. The National Guard contributed to the toll [13] wrought by Hurricane Sandy. NYC DOT admonished pedestrians to look out for careless drivers [14], yet made a mockery of that advice [15] by refusing to own up to a DOT driver’s alleged responsibility [16] for a fatal crash.

Because it must, the story continues. Some day the City Council will take up the proposed Crash Investigation Reform Act [17], which among other measures would form a task force charged with assessing NYPD crash investigation practices and recommending reforms. In the meantime, individual acts of vehicular violence have gained the attention [18] of council [19] members [20]. Though results have been mixed, the city press corps is finally acknowledging the dangers of unsafe streets [21] and virtually non-existent enforcement [22]. Attorneys are advancing the cause [23] of traffic justice [24] in civil courts. Everyday citizens press on for improvements that are known to make neighborhoods safer [25] to walk, bike and, yes, drive.

Here is our accounting of New York pedestrians and cyclists known to have lost their lives in traffic in 2012. In the comments, please share remembrances of those named here, and the names and stories of those we missed.

[26]

Roman Alavez, Lizardo Aldama, Clara Almazo, Rubin Baum

[36]

Maleka Begum, Emma Blumstein, Roxana Sorina Buta, Terence Connor

[44]

Tchaka Cooke, Raoul De La Cruz, Sorel Depas-Medina, Colleen Mallon Dizeo

[53]

Jessica Dworkin, Jermaine Elliott, David Ellis, Dan Fellegara

[61]

Henry Garcia, Thackoo Hargobin, Christopher Hutchinson, Jean Jeanniot

[75]

Meilan Jin, Gitzella Katz, Ibrahim Kebe, Timothy Keith

[79]

Margaret King, Alexander Martinez, Daniel Martinez, Margaret Myers

[86]

Joseph Nelson, James Neverson, Tamon Robinson, Kevin Rodriguez

[96]

Mike Rogalle, Juanita Rosario, Dashane Santana, Alberto Serrano

[106]

Rohan Singh, Jusheem Thorne, Ronald Tillman, Amos Veloz, Pelagia Zingatan