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Posts from the Children Category

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Eyes on the Street: Just Another Brush With Death at a Typical NYC Crossing


The design of 29th Street and 39th Avenue in Long Island City is typical of thousands of New York City crossings: an intersection of relatively narrow streets where drivers are allowed to park to the edge of crosswalks with no design elements to force motorists to slow down.

The combination of poor visibility and lack of traffic-calming features leads to crashes like the one in the video, taken Thursday, when an Access-A-Ride driver sped into a crosswalk while turning left and struck a child with a van’s door-mounted mirror. Luckily it appears the child wasn’t seriously hurt.

Jean Cawley, who sent us the video, has written to DOT officials, including Queens DOT Commissioner Nicole Garcia, several times to ask for traffic-calming measures at this intersection and other locations in the area. Cawley also submitted a petition to DOT from residents of Dutch Kills.

Consistent NYPD enforcement wouldn’t hurt either. The 114th Precinct, where the crash in the video occurred, issues an average of just 23 tickets a month to drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians.

Below are images from a two-vehicle collision at the same intersection that sent a cab onto the sidewalk.

“Cars barrel through our streets in a dangerous manner all day, every day,” wrote Cawley in an email to Garcia, with the video and photos attached. “I hope you will help. DOT’s actions may save a life.”

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Will the New “Free Range Kids Law” Protect Parents Who Let Kids Walk?

Last spring, Alexander and Danielle Meitiv became public faces of the “Free Range Kids” movement when their children were picked up by police in Silver Spring, Maryland, while walking home from a local park.

Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, left, were investigated for child neglect after their children were picked up by police last spring while walking home from the park. Photo: Facebook via the Daily Mail.

Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, left, were investigated for child neglect after their children were picked up by police last spring while walking home from the park. Photo: Facebook via the Daily Mail

The sight of a 10-year-old and a 6-year-old unsupervised prompted police to open a child neglect case against the couple. The investigation was dropped in June — but not before the story made national headlines.

A provision inserted into the just-passed federal education bill seeks to put an end to incidents like this, writes Lenore Skenazy in the New York Post. Skenazy, the founder of the Free Range Kids movement and a writer at Reason.com, says cases like the Meitivs’ are more common than you’d think.

The provision from Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, says the law will not “prohibit a child from traveling to and from school on foot, or by car, bus, or bike when … the parents have given permission.”

We asked some attorneys if the new rule was likely to prevent local police departments from coming down on parents who allow their children to do things like walk to school and play unsupervised.

Ohio bike lawyer Steve Magas said he’s seen similar cases, but he’s not sure how often “free range parents” end up in the legal system. In 2011, a Tennessee mom faced neglect charges for letting her kid bike to school. Magas said he’s currently preparing to represent a woman who was threatened with child endangerment charges by the Ohio Highway Patrol for riding her bike with her toddler.

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Streetsblog USA
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Carseats and the Limitations of American Safety Culture

One lesson they really hammer home, when you’re a new parent, is the importance of carseats.

Alarming articles about car seat fails are part of the territory for new parents. But the scaremongering stops short. Image: Today

Alarming articles about carseat failures are part of the territory for new parents. Image: Today

Hospitals won’t let you take a newborn home from the hospital unless you can show you have a carseat. And they warn you of this fact in Lamaze class and in all the parenting books and on all the parenting websites.

I had a baby six months ago, and we had our carseat installed at a fire station when I was in my third trimester. Fire stations are recommended because a lot of carseats are so complicated to install, you need help from specially trained safety officials. My child, to be sure, has never traveled a mile in a car without a carseat, so in my case, anyway, the campaign succeeded admirably.

Since people know I’m a new mom, I sometimes get sent scary articles about mistakes you can make with your carseat that can kill your child. (For the record, don’t put your child in a carseat in a winter coat, and don’t put your child in an unstrapped car seat for napping.)

There’s a lot of emphasis on carseats because the public health community has rallied around them, and for good reason. For kids under 1, carseats reduce the risk of death by 71 percent, and for kids ages 1 to 4, risk is reduced about 54 percent, according to the CDC.

So carseats are crucial and necessary, but as a tool, they have some limitations. They aren’t tested at speeds higher than 35 miles per hour. And they’re designed to minimize the damage from front end collisions, meaning they can be of limited use in side and rear impact situations.

The reality is that driving is inherently risky, especially for child passengers, and the best a carseat can do is mitigate that risk. Carseats help when you’re in a collision — the safest thing to do is avoid collisions in the first place. But when you have a baby, nobody says, “Hey, to protect your kid, maybe try driving less, taking transit more, or just avoid highways and don’t drive at higher speeds.” Even the CDC’s advice for parents doesn’t go beyond recommending carseats and seat belts, with one reference to drunk driving.

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DA Ken Thompson: Felony Plea for Driver Who Killed Roshard Charles, 5

A driver who fatally struck a little boy in Crown Heights and left the scene has pled guilty to felony hit-and-run.

On March 16, 2014, 5-year-old Roshard Charles was walking with his mother, little brother, and a friend on Empire Boulevard between Nostrand Avenue and Rogers Avenue when a driver aiming for a parking spot backed into him with a minivan. According to reports, as Roshard’s mother screamed and pounded on the van, Elizabeth Mayard drove away. Reports said Mayard ran red lights as she fled westbound on Empire, and was convinced by a witness who followed her to return to the scene.

Roshard Charles

Roshard Charles

From the Daily News:

[Witness Thomas] Barry and two others lifted the boy and put him on the hood of a parked car to try to keep him awake until help arrived, he said.

“Three or four times it was like he was going into the fetal position, and then he wasn’t moving anymore,” said a witness who lifted the boy. “He didn’t move again. He just didn’t move.”

The Daily News reported that Roshard “darted away from his mom,” a claim that did not match accounts from other media outlets, NYPD, or Roshard’s mother.

Rochelle Charles spoke with DNAinfo :

“I was with my baby. He was right here with me. She double parked. She wasn’t moving. She was just there. We were already walking, about to go on the sidewalk. And that’s when she started reversing really fast…I said, ‘Stop!’ I banged on [the van]. She reversed back. She heard me. She looked back. She tried to get him out of the wheel. And then she just drove off…How could you leave like that? I kept telling her to stop.”

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson charged Mayard with leaving the scene of a crash that resulted in death, a D felony, as well as misdemeanor reckless endangerment, reckless driving, careless driving, and unsafe backing of a vehicle. According to court records, last week Mayard pled guilty to leaving the scene, the top charge against her. Thompson did not charge Mayard for taking the life of Roshard Charles.

Class D felonies carry penalties ranging from probation to seven years in prison. Mayard is scheduled to be sentenced in January.

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Sidewalks Are No Sanctuary: Driver Jumps Curb, Kills 3 in the Bronx

Nyanna Aquil, left, and Kristian Leka, were two of three people killed in the Bronx by a curb-jumping driver on Halloween, along with Nyanna’s grandfather Louis Perez. Photos via Daily News

Nyanna Aquil, left, and Kristian Leka, were two of three people killed in the Bronx by a curb-jumping driver on Halloween, along with Nyanna’s grandfather Louis Perez. Photos via Daily News

A motorist killed three people Saturday, including a 10-year-old girl, and injured three others when he drove onto a Bronx sidewalk crowded with trick-or-treaters.

Police told the media Howard Unger, 52, of the Bronx, was driving west on Morris Park Avenue in a Dodge sedan at around 5 p.m. when he hit another vehicle from behind multiple times, hit a bus, and drove against oncoming traffic before going over the curb near Bogart Avenue.

Witnesses said the vehicle struck the victims on the sidewalk and went airborne. Photos from the scene show the car atop a fence, several feet off the ground, outside 936 Morris Park Avenue.

Unger killed Nyanna Aquil; her grandfather, 65-year-old Louis Perez; and Kristian Leka, 24, who according to the Times “was holding his younger sister’s hand to keep her safe.” Perez’s 3-year-old granddaughter, Leka’s sister, and Leka’s fiancé were injured.

From the Daily News:

“The guy in front of my feet, his body was torn in half. He was dead already,” said Kristina DeJesus, a hospital administrative assistant.

There was a young girl on the side of the car. She was like, ‘Can somebody help me?’ I was screaming at her, ‘Whatever you do, don’t move!’

“I had no time to cry … to react,” she added. “My body went into help mode.”

Unnamed investigators told the Times and the Post Unger may have had a seizure before the crash. The Daily News reported that Unger “did not have a history of seizures or other health issues,” according to his mother.

“We are looking at every possible aspect,” said Joe McCormack, vehicular crimes chief for District Attorney Robert Johnson.

Read more…

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Trick-or-Treaters Need Safe Streets, Not “Be Seen!” Tweets

Halloween is the worst day of the year for child pedestrian fatalities in the United States. A 2012 study by State Farm found that the average number of children killed by drivers more than doubles on October 31 compared to other days, based on federal crash data from 1990 to 2010.

So what should be a holiday for care-free fun is marked by admonishments, directed at parents and kids, to avoid getting killed by motorists, like this tweet from the Federal Highway Administration. There’s also the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has been tweeting all week about how children should “be seen.”

All fine, but maybe parents wouldn’t have to preserve their children’s lives by adding “retroreflective material” to costumes if transportation agencies made more of an effort to reduce crashes the other 364 days of the year. When the people at NHTSA put the onus on children to prevent crashes even as they neglect to regulate driver-distracting infotainment systems, how seriously do they take traffic safety?

Platitudes are not protecting children from reckless and inattentive drivers. If government agencies and officials want to keep kids safe, they’re going to have to do more than tweet about it.

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Civil Suit Compels Man Who Killed Ally Liao to Stop Driving for 5 Years

The corner where Allison Liao was killed was named in her honor. Photo: Families for Safe Streets

The corner where a driver failed to yield and killed Allison Liao was named for her. Photo: Families for Safe Streets

A bereaved family has done what NYPD, city district attorneys, and the New York State DMV usually fail to do: impose meaningful sanctions against a reckless driver, who in this case took the life of 3-year-old Allison Liao.

Ahmad Abu-Zayedeh failed to yield the right of way when he struck Allison as she walked hand in hand with her grandmother across Main Street in Flushing on October 6, 2013. The DMV found Abu-Zayedeh at fault for the crash, but revoked his license for just 30 days.

Allison Liao

Allison Liao

NYPD summonsed Abu-Zayedeh for failure to yield and careless driving, but filed no criminal charges. The DMV later threw out the tickets. The chief vehicular crimes prosecutor for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, Charles A. Testagrossa, wrote off the crash as a blameless “accident,” and said Abu-Zayedeh was proceeding with a green light. In stories that are still online in their original form, the press falsely reported that Allison “broke free” from her grandmother, implying the victims were at fault.

As is common when drivers injure and kill people in NYC, civil court was the victims’ only available venue to hold the motorist accountable. This month, Allison’s parents, Amy Tam and Hsi-Pei Liao, settled a suit with Abu-Zayedeh. Under the terms of the settlement, Abu-Zayedeh surrendered 75 percent of his net worth, acknowledged complete responsibility for the crash, and signed a notarized agreement to not drive or apply for a license for five years [PDF].

Attorney Steve Vaccaro, who represented the Liaos, told Streetsblog that extended loss of driving privileges and fines that are calculated as a percentage of the driver’s assets are the norm in other countries. “What we’ve attempted to do in this settlement is to bring that much more serious approach toward accountability for reckless driving to the United States in the context of this civil suit,” Vaccaro said.

“It reflects a comprehensive approach toward justice that victims’ families increasingly are taking in these types of cases, and has the potential to change the way drivers regard the risks of reckless driving,” said Vaccaro, who noted that an insurance settlement is the standard civil penalty for a serious crash. “If there are risks like having to make a public apology, having to forgo driving for years, and now with the Right of Way Law, which very much was passed in the wake of and because of Ally Liao’s death, criminal penalties, perhaps drivers will start to get the message about their awesome responsibility to drive safely.”

As members of Families for Safe Streets, Amy Tam and Hsi-Pei Liao have worked with other victims to draw attention to New York City’s reckless driving epidemic, and to advocate for legislative reforms intended to make streets safer.

“It’s been an honor to represent the Liao family,” Vaccaro said. “They should be regarded as heroes by all parents and all New Yorkers for their sacrifice and stance against traffic violence. This settlement, which I consider unprecedented, is due to their perseverance and willingness to make a comprehensive notion of justice their overriding goal.”

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DA Robert Johnson: Manslaughter Charges for Cab Driver Who Killed Two

Bronx DA Robert Johnson says cab driver Emilio Garcia was off his epilepsy medication when he killed Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown. Image: News 12

Bronx DA Robert Johnson says cab driver Emilio Garcia was off his epilepsy medication when he killed Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown. Image: News 12

District Attorney Robert Johnson has filed felony charges against the green cab driver who killed two people on a Bronx sidewalk.

Johnson’s office told Gothamist Emilio Garcia was off his epilepsy medication when he hit 5-year-old Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown, 25, at the Grand Concourse and E. 170th Street on March 20.

Bronx DA Robert Johnson

Bronx DA Robert Johnson

Reports published after the crash said Clark also hit a 55-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman, who according to some outlets was Tierre’s mother, as they waited for a bus.

From Gothamist:

According to a spokeswoman for the Bronx DA’s office, Assistant DA Morgan Dolan argued in court that Garcia had been aware of his epilepsy, and had also been involved in a minor crash on December 31, 2014 — a few months before the crash that killed Brown and Clark. The earlier crash took place at East 149th Street and Brook Avenue in the South Bronx last New Years Eve, and resulted in minor injuries to another driver.

Garcia was charged with manslaughter and homicide, Johnson’s office told Streetsblog. Court records say he was arraigned on October 15 and held on $100,000 bond.

The Bronx crash resembles the case of garbage truck driver Auvryn Scarlett, who killed two tourists in Manhattan in 2008 after he went off his medication and had a seizure behind the wheel. Scarlett was convicted of murder, but last week an appeals court reduced the conviction to manslaughter. Prosecutors said Scarlett did not inform his employer or the DMV that he had epilepsy and that he went off his medication so he could drink.

Garcia’s trial is scheduled to begin in January.

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Cab Driver Who Ran Over Kids on Bronx Sidewalk Blames Car

The livery cab driver who ran over four children and a woman on a Bronx sidewalk Wednesday blamed the car he was driving.

The driver, identified as Bialo Daillo, spoke with WNBC yesterday.

… Daillo … said he was heartbroken by the accident. The driver said he stepped on the break [sic] and the car wouldn’t stop. He said he feels fine physically, but is sad for those who were injured.

“I just care about the other people; I’m not bleeding. I’m sorry for the other people,” Daillo said. “Nobody wants that. Nobody wants this. I don’t know what happened.”

Daillo was driving a Toyota Camry. Video posted by WNBC shows him speed toward the intersection of Valentine Avenue and E. Kingsbridge Road, drive over a raised median, re-enter the roadway, jump the curb a second time and crash into a building where a group of children were waiting for a school bus. In the video the brake lights of the car don’t appear to activate until after Daillo is on the sidewalk where the victims were standing.

Three of the victims were a 33-year-old woman and her two kids. Two other children were also hurt. According to WNBC, an 8-year-old girl who was pinned under the car was in intensive care at Jacobi Hospital with a broken pelvis and broken legs.

Daillo, who according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission has held a for-hire vehicle license since 1998, works for Uber. Uber told Streetsblog he did not drive for the company yesterday. The TLC suspended Daillo from driving a cab pending the outcome of the NYPD investigation. Unless he is convicted of a crime or traffic offense, he will likely be reinstated by the TLC.

Immediately after the crash, anonymous police sources told the Post “no criminality was suspected.” No charges were filed yesterday. The NYPD public information office could not provide an update on the case this afternoon.

The crash occurred in the 52nd Precinct, and in the City Council district represented by Ritchie Torres.

Mayor de Blasio’s office sent a statement on the crash today, after I asked for one. It did not say the mayor planned to take any action relevant to the crash, such as directing DOT to inspect the site or reform rules that allow cab drivers who harm people to retain TLC licenses.

See prior Streetsblog coverage of yesterday’s crash here, here, and here.

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Mayor de Blasio Busy Pandering to Motorists Hours After Kids Hit by Driver

Update: De Blasio spokesperson Wiley Norvell sent the following statement: “It’s painful and heartbreaking. Preventing crashes like this is precisely why Mayor de Blasio launched Vision Zero immediately after taking office. A full investigation is underway and the driver has been suspended, pending its outcome.”

You didn’t see Mayor Bill de Blasio talking about the four kids who were hit by a speeding cab driver on a Bronx sidewalk yesterday.

De Blasio could have visited the victims in the hospital. He could have held a press conference at the site of the crash. He could have directed DOT to analyze street conditions at the site and make improvements to help ensure such a crash doesn’t happen again. He could have pledged TLC reforms to get dangerous cab drivers off the streets regardless of whether NYPD or district attorneys file charges after a crash. He could have at least raised public awareness by issuing a statement acknowledging what happened and recommitting his administration to Vision Zero.

He did none of those things. But de Blasio kept his appointment for a nighttime presser on Staten Island, where for the second time in four months he had his picture taken while shoveling asphalt.

When a gas leak caused an explosion and building collapse in Harlem in 2014, the mayor acted swiftly, visiting the scene and issuing a detailed briefing later in the day. Apparently de Blasio didn’t find it necessary to respond when four children were mowed down on a sidewalk.

We have asked the mayor’s office for comment on yesterday’s crash. We’ll have more details on the crash later today.