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Unlicensed Dump Truck Driver Kills Senior Near Bowery and Canal

A dangerous intersection awaiting a safety fix. A precinct that lags on street safety. And a driver who could have faced stronger charges if Albany had taken action. Image: WNBC

The driver of this truck was operating with a suspended license when he struck and killed Ka Chor Yau last week. Image: WNBC

On Friday afternoon, a dump truck driver with a suspended license struck and killed 83-year-old Ka Chor Yau, who was crossing a deadly intersection at the base of the Manhattan Bridge in Chinatown. The same intersection is due to receive pedestrian safety improvements this summer.

The driver, 24-year-old Maykel Felix-Tejada of Paterson, New Jersey, was arrested for aggravated unlicensed operation, the standard charge for driving without a valid license. He was not charged for any crimes related to Yau’s death. Police said Yau was outside the crosswalk and did not have the right of way.

A bill to toughen penalties for unlicensed drivers who injure or kill passed the State Senate earlier this year but did not clear the Assembly. Under the bill, these drivers would face felony charges for vehicular assault or vehicular homicide.

The intersection where Yau was killed is slated to receive upgrades that would make it safer for pedestrians to cross near the mouth of the Manhattan Bridge. The plan to add a crosswalk, traffic signal, and curb extensions has received the support of Manhattan Community Board 3, and DOT says implementation is slated to begin in early August, with completion in October.

Council Member Margaret Chin, who represents the area, has regularly spoken out about pedestrian deaths on Canal Street. Her bill requiring DOT to study bicycle and pedestrian safety along truck routes, including Canal Street, was signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio last month.

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NYPD: No Charges for Driver Who Killed Woman on Brooklyn Sidewalk

This driver jumped the curb, hit a wall, two pedestrians, a livery cab and a tree, killing one person and injuring several others. NYPD filed no charges. Image: WABC

This driver jumped the curb, hit a wall, two pedestrians, a livery cab and a tree, killing one person and injuring several others. NYPD filed no charges. Image: WABC

NYPD filed no charges against a motorist who cut a swath of destruction through East New York, striking two people on a sidewalk and killing one of the victims.

The driver, in a Toyota Camry, was making a left turn at Pennsylvania Avenue and Cozine Avenue at around 10:30 a.m. on July 1 when she mounted the sidewalk, struck a wall, and hit two pedestrians, according to reports. The driver then hit a livery cab and a street tree before coming to a stop half a block away.

From WCBS:

A witness, named Amir, said a female pedestrian was dragged and pinned under the car.

He and other bystanders tried to help her.

“She wasn’t conscious so we weren’t sure if she was alive, we just saw her legs and knew it was bad,” Amir said. “If you see the jack underneath the car, we actually tried to jack the car up and noticed that we were dragging her as we jacked it up so we stopped.”

“The lady was horrified. She was traumatized and in shock,” another witness said.

Marcia Arthurs, 51, later died from severe trauma to her head and body. The second pedestrian, a 59-year-old man, was hospitalized with lacerations to his face. Four others were reported injured.

“The driver remained at the scene and wasn’t charged,” the Daily News reported.

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When a Driver Had a Seizure and Killed Two in Manhattan, It Was Murder

The motorist who killed a cyclist and injured several others in Brooklyn yesterday told police he had a seizure after he did not take his medication. If the driver’s claim is true, the case would be similar to a Manhattan crash that resulted in a murder conviction.

According to reports, at around 7 a.m. Tuesday 37-year-old Claudio Rodriguez, driving against traffic on Fourth Avenue, hit a male cyclist head-on, near the Atlantic Avenue intersection, killing the victim instantly. The Brooklyn Eagle identified the cyclist as 35-year-old Alejandro Moran-Marin.

Reports said Rodriguez hit a stopped vehicle before striking Moran-Marin, and drove into another car before coming to a stop near Fourth and Flatbush Avenue. Five people, including Rodriguez, were hospitalized.

From WABC:

After smashing into the back of the Camry, witnesses say the driver backed up, went around the Camry then drove into oncoming traffic and kept speeding up the block, hitting the bicyclist near Atlantic Avenue.

Witnesses said Moran-Marin’s bicycle was scattered in pieces across several blocks.

A witness told the Daily News he “thought the driver was trying to flee after rear-ending the Toyota because he backed up before taking off.”

In the immediate aftermath of the crash, several outlets reported that NYPD said the driver had a seizure, information the Daily News and the Post said came from Rodriguez himself. “He admitted to cops that he had forgotten to take medication on Monday to control his seizures, law-enforcement sources said,” the Post reported.

“I was feeling, like, you know when you feel dizzy,” Rodriguez said. “After that, I don’t remember until I hit the other guy and the other guy hit me.”

As of this afternoon no charges had been filed against the driver by NYPD or Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, police told Streetsblog. NYPD said the investigation is ongoing.

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How About Commendations for NYPD’s Real Vision Zero Heroes?

Police are issuing more tickets for reckless driving. Where are their awards?

NYPD officers are issuing a lot more tickets for reckless driving. Where are their awards? Photo: Hilda Cohen

In 2014, the inaugural year of Vision Zero in NYC, Officer Joshua Vincek was racking up bike tickets in the 20th Precinct on the Upper West Side. In the meantime his fellow precinct officers wrote 266 tickets to speeding drivers. That might not sound like much, but consider this: In 2013 the 20th Precinct issued all of 14 speeding summonses — and in 2012, the total was four.

NYPD enforcement of dangerous violations like speeding and failure to yield is uneven from precinct to precinct, but there are cops out there who are making it safer to walk and bike by targeting reckless driving.

In 2014 summonses for failure to yield to pedestrians increased by 125 percent from the year before. Police who walk in front of turning drivers are literally putting their lives at risk, and they’re doing a lot more good than ticketing people on bikes. Unlike people on bikes, drivers who fail to yield actually claim lives on the Upper West Side. Cooper StockJean Chambers, and Moshe Grun were all killed by Upper West Side motorists who failed to yield.

Is NYPD recognizing beat cops who are responsible for increased enforcement of violations that cause most traffic injuries and deaths? We asked the department’s public information office, but they didn’t have an answer for us.

It would be a shame if Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan and other department brass don’t honor officers who are actually moving NYC toward its Vision Zero goals.

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Caption Contest: Chan Declares Bike-Obsessed Cop a Vision Zero Hero

Joshua Vincek is the 20th Precinct officer known for ticketing over 1,200 cyclists during a 38-month period when the entire precinct summonsed just 331 drivers for speeding. That’s not a typo.

Never mind that reckless drivers cause the vast majority of road carnage in NYC. Today NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan hailed Vincek as a Vision Zero hero.

Please leave your captions in the comments.

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DMV: Six-Month Suspension for Driver Who Killed Sammy Cohen Eckstein

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles determined that the driver who killed 12-year-old Sammy Cohen Eckstein failed to exercise due care and did not have a valid license at the time of the crash. DMV administrative law judge Marc Berger suspended the driver’s license for six months.

Sammy Cohen Eckstein

At around 5:15 p.m. on October 8, 2013, Sammy was attempting to retrieve a ball from Prospect Park West at Third Street when Luis K. Quizhpi-Tacuri hit him with a Chevrolet van. According to findings issued by Berger on June 29 [PDF], Quizhpi-Tacuri admitted that he saw the ball in the street, and saw another driver, traveling in the same direction to his left, come to a stop. Rather than slow down or stop, Quizhpi-Tacuri passed the second vehicle on the right, striking Sammy with the right rear tire of the van.

According to the DMV report, Quizhpi-Tacuri testified at a June 26 hearing that he was traveling at 25 miles per hour when the collision occurred. He also said he was late for a 5:00 appointment.

Wrote Berger:

The sight of a ball rolling into the street in a residential area adjacent to a park in the afternoon should have warned the respondent of the likely presence of children — to carefully observe his surroundings and make appropriate adjustments, including slowing down or stopping if necessary. Additionally, the fact that the vehicle immediately to his left suddenly stopped after the ball passed should have been an indication to the respondent to use extra care instead of passing that vehicle on its right.

Berger found Quizhpi-Tacuri committed three traffic offenses: failure to use due care, passing on the right unsafely, and driving without a valid license. Berger’s report says Quizhpi-Tacuri had a Washington state license at the time of the crash, though he had lived in New York for nine years. New York requires drivers to obtain a new license within 30 days of becoming a resident.

NYPD failed to send any of the officers who investigated the crash to Quizhpi-Tacuri’s DMV hearing, according to Steve Vaccaro, the attorney for Sammy’s family.

NYPD blamed Sammy for the crash and issued no summonses or charges. No charges were filed by former Brooklyn district attorney Charles Hynes or his successor Ken Thompson, who took office in 2014.

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Car Dealers Turn Northern Boulevard’s Sidewalks Into Vehicle Showrooms

Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

As a matter of practice, car dealerships along Northern Boulevard, one of the most dangerous streets in Queens, illegally use its sidewalks and curb lanes as a showroom for vehicles. NYPD doesn’t enforce against the appropriation of sidewalks and won’t answer questions about it.

Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson recently walked down Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights and found cars for sale blocking the pedestrian right of way, including the very crosswalk where a turning truck driver killed 8-year-old Noshat Nahian in 2013.

Nahian was walking to PS 152, the school where, later on, Mayor Bill de Blasio chose to first announce his Vision Zero initiative and signed a package of street safety legislation. While the city installed pedestrian islands and banned turns after Nahian was killed, it hasn’t managed to keep the sidewalks and crosswalks clear of cars for sale.

The crosswalk where 8-year-old Noshat Nahian was killed is blocked by a car dealership using it as a display space for its latest models. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

A car dealership displays one of its latest models in the crosswalk where 8-year-old Noshat Nahian was killed. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

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No Charges for Driver Who Repeatedly Ran Over Brooklyn Pedestrian

A livery cab driver repeatedly backed over a Brooklyn rabbi Monday afternoon in Crown Heights, killing him, but no charges were filed by NYPD or Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.

Yekutiel Rapp was crossing Empire Boulevard at Balfour Place at around 5:30 p.m. when the driver hit him while reversing out of a parking spot, according to reports.

Yekutiel Rapp. Photo via Yeshiva World News

Yekutiel Rapp. Photo via Yeshiva World News

From Crown Heights Info:

The driver, realizing that he had hit something but unaware that it was a person, backed up his car — running the man over a second time; in the ensuing mayhem, the driver then drove forward — running him over a third time.

Witnessing the horrific crash and first on scene was a pair of Shomrim volunteers, both of whom immediately sprang into action, forcing the driver to stop his vehicle while calling for emergency rescue services and attempting to free the gravely injured man from under the vehicle.

Together with a number of bystanders they attempted to lift the car enough to free the man. Another Shomrim volunteer arrived with a large car jack and further lifted the car, at which point firefighters arrived on scene and joined in the rescue effort.

“I heard the guy banging on the car telling him to stop,” witness Calvin Thomas told the Post.

Rapp, a noted 66-year-old orthodox rabbi, died at Kings County Hospital. Police had filed no charges as of this afternoon. An NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog the investigation is still open.

Unless the driver is charged and convicted of breaking a traffic law he will in all likelihood remain in good standing with the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

This fatal crash occurred in the 71st Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Deputy Inspector George Fitzgibbon, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 71st Precinct council meetings happen at 7:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month at MS 61, 400 Empire Boulevard. Call 718-735-0527 for information.

Yekutiel Rapp was killed was killed in the City Council district represented by Laurie Cumbo, and in Brooklyn Community Board District 9.

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NYPD: Drivers Killed 18 Pedestrians and Cyclists in May, and Injured 1,262

Image: NYPD

Image: NYPD

Twenty-eight people died in New York City traffic in May, and 4,771 were injured, according to the latest NYPD crash data report [PDF].

As of the end of May, 49 pedestrians and cyclists were reported killed by city motorists this year, and 5,049 injured, compared to 54 deaths and 5,669 injuries for the same period in 2014. Drivers killed more pedestrians in May than in any other single month since the launch of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero program.

Citywide, at least 17 pedestrians and one cyclist were fatally struck by drivers: five pedestrians and one cyclist in Manhattan; three pedestrians in the Bronx; six pedestrians in Brooklyn; and three pedestrians in Queens. Among the victims were Ervi Secundino, Favhad Chowdhury, Amelia Sterental, Nfn Loknauth, John Torson, Victor Grant, Irwin Mayer, Wanda Canestri, Galina Shibayeva, Ian Paul Bubb, Sincere Atkins, Dorria Campfield, Sergei Musatov, an unnamed female pedestrian in Brooklyn, an unnamed male pedestrian in Brooklyn, and an unnamed male pedestrian in the Bronx.

Motorists killed at least two children and six seniors: Sincere Atkins, 8; Ervi Secundino, 12; Amelia Sterental, 76; Nfn Loknauth, 83; John Torson, 89; Irwin Mayer, 96; Wanda Canestri, 68; and Galina Shibayeva, 76.

Motorists killed at least five pedestrians in May whose names were not immediately disclosed by NYPD, or whose deaths were not covered in the press. Most every month, there are pedestrian and cyclist deaths that go unreported other than the scant details provided weeks later in the NYPD dataset, which lists only the intersection closest to the crash and the victim’s mode of travel.

Across the city, 808 pedestrians and 472 cyclists were reported hurt in collisions with motor vehicles. Per NYPD policy, few of these crashes were investigated by trained officers.

Of 16 fatal crashes on surface streets reported by Streetsblog and other outlets, no motorists were known to have been charged for causing a death. Based on NYPD and media accounts, at least five victims were likely walking or cycling with the right of way when they were struck, but police and district attorneys are known to have applied the city’s Right of Way Law in none of those crashes. Historically, nearly half of motorists who kill a New York City pedestrian or cyclist do not receive so much as a citation for careless driving.

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Driver Kills Cyclist in Ditmas Park, NYPD and Media Blame Deceased Victim

A driver killed a cyclist in Ditmas Park this morning.

The cyclist, a 57-year-old man, was riding eastbound on Church Avenue near Ocean Avenue when he was run over by the driver of a commercial box truck, who was also eastbound on Church, according to NYPD. The crash happened at around 10:25 a.m.

Per usual, initial NYPD accounts focused on what the victim — who can’t speak for himself — purportedly did to get himself killed, with no word on the driver’s actions before the crash. Sergeant Lee Jones told Gothamist the victim “lost control and struck the side of the box truck and fell under the wheels.”

DNAinfo cited unnamed NYPD sources who said the victim “swerved” and “turned into” the truck. “Witnesses said they didn’t see any helmet with the cyclist, just a Dallas Cowboys baseball cap,” DNA reported.

The cyclist was pronounced dead at Kings County Hospital, NYPD said.

The NYPD public information office had no additional details when we called, but said the crash was still under investigation. Police had not released the victim’s identity as of earlier this afternoon. NYPD does not usually divulge the names of drivers who kill people unless charges are filed.

While it’s not clear what happened this morning, Church Avenue has no dedicated space for biking, with little room between the parking lane and moving traffic.

Injury crashes in the vicinity of Church Avenue and Ocean Avenue, indicated by the blue dot, in 2015. Image: Vision Zero View

Injury crashes this year in the vicinity of Church Avenue and Ocean Avenue, indicated by the blue dot, as of May. Image: Vision Zero View

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