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Tonight: Parents Call on de Blasio to Increase Funding for Safer Streets

Jazmine Marin, 13, and Navraj Raju, eight months, were killed by motorists in separate crashes in Queens last week.

Jazmine Marin, 13, and Navraj Raju, eight months, were killed by motorists in separate crashes in Queens last week.

Prompted by the recent deaths of two children at the hands of reckless drivers, Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets will lead a protest at City Hall this evening to call on Mayor de Blasio to accelerate the pace of life-saving street redesigns.

Last Monday, October 24, a motorist in a muscle car hit two teenage girls as they walked to school on Cross Bay Boulevard in Ozone Park, killing 13-year-old Jazmine Marin. On Friday an unlicensed van driver ran over 8-month-old Navraj Raju as his mother pushed him in a stroller on an Astoria Boulevard sidewalk. The first driver faces no charges or traffic violations, the second was charged with unlicensed operation — a low-level misdemeanor — but not for taking a life.

Cross Bay Boulevard is a Vision Zero priority corridor. According to TA, two-thirds of all traffic fatalities since the beginning of 2015 have occurred at locations identified by DOT as in urgent need of safety fixes. But de Blasio denied the City Council’s request to increase DOT funding for street improvements in the latest budget.

“It’s devastating to hear that another parent has lost a child in another sidewalk crash that could have been prevented,” said Sofia Russo, whose 4-year-old daughter Ariel was killed by a curb-jumping driver in Manhattan in 2013, in a statement. “The sidewalk should be sacred space. This is not Vision Zero. If the City is going to reach its goal, Mayor de Blasio has to dedicate real resources to fix the most dangerous streets in every community, and tell the public when those safety improvements are expected to be complete.”

Tonight’s event will begin on the City Hall steps at 6 p.m.

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Driver Kills Jazmine Marin, 13, Near Ozone Park School; NYPD Blames Victim

A driver hit two teenagers, killing 13-year-old Jazmine Marin, at Cross Bay Boulevard at 149th Avenue in Ozone Park this morning. NYPD filed no charges against the driver and blamed the victims in the press. Image: Google Maps

A driver hit two teenagers, killing 13-year-old Jazmine Marin, at Cross Bay Boulevard at 149th Avenue in Ozone Park this morning. NYPD filed no charges against the driver and blamed the victims in the press. Image: Google Maps

Update: The motorist who killed Marin and injured the second victim was driving an early 1980s Chevrolet El Camino with a racing hood scoop, per a Daily News photo from the scene.

A motorist hit two teenagers near a school in Ozone Park this morning, killing a 13-year-old girl and injuring the second victim.

Jazmine Marin. Photo via Daily News

Jazmine Marin. Photo via Daily News

Jazmine Marin and another girl were walking east across Cross Bay Boulevard at 149th Avenue at around 6:40 a.m. when a 55-year-old man hit them with a Chevrolet sedan, NYPD told Gothamist.

Marin sustained head trauma and died at Jamaica Hospital. The second victim was hospitalized with a leg injury.

Cross Bay Boulevard at 149th Avenue is a wide street designed to facilitate fast driving. A motorist killed 59-year-old pedestrian Francisco Camacho at the intersection in 2012.

The victims of today’s crash were approaching a nearby middle school, but it’s unknown if they were students there.

NYPD withheld the driver’s identity and blamed the children in the press. From the Daily News:

The 55-year-old driver of the sedan remained at the scene. It appeared that he had the green light at the time and that the girls were crossing outside of a crosswalk, police sources said.

No charges were filed. Anonymous police sources told WNBC “no criminality is suspected.”

Jazmine Marin was killed in the 106th Precinct, where officers had ticketed 372 drivers for speeding this year as of September, and in the City Council district represented by Eric Ulrich.

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Driver Who Killed 3 People on Bronx Sidewalk Charged With Manslaughter

Nyanna Aquil, left, her grandfather Louis Perez, and Kristian Leka were killed in the Bronx by a curb-jumping driver last Halloween. Bronx DA Darcel Clark charged Howard Unger with multiple counts of manslaughter, assault, and homicide for the crash.

Nyanna Aquil, left, her grandfather Louis Perez, and Kristian Leka were killed in the Bronx by a curb-jumping driver last Halloween. Bronx DA Darcel Clark charged Howard Unger with multiple counts of manslaughter, assault, and homicide for the crash.

District Attorney Darcel Clark filed manslaughter and homicide charges against a motorist who fatally struck three people, including a child, on a Bronx sidewalk last year.

Howard Unger was indicted this week on three counts of manslaughter, three counts of assault, three counts of homicide, one count of misdemeanor reckless endangerment, and one misdemeanor count of falsifying records, according to court records.

Unger, 53, of the Bronx, hit several vehicles before driving a Dodge sedan over the curb on Morris Park Avenue near Bogart Avenue on the afternoon of October 31, 2015.

Unger crashed into a group of people who were out trick-or-treating, killing 10-year-old Nyanna Aquil; her grandfather, 65-year-old Louis Perez; and Kristian Leka, 24, who pushed others out of Unger’s path.

Aquil’s younger sisters, ages 3 and 8, were injured, as were Leka’s 9-year-old sister and his fiancé, according to the Times and DNAinfo.

Prosecutors say Unger is epileptic and “had not been taking medication as prescribed before the crash,” DNAinfo reported.

Image: WCBS

Image: WCBS

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Bronx CB 8 Delays Vote on Play Street Where Driver Killed 8-Year-Old

Bronx Community Board 8 delayed a decision on whether to approve a play street application from the school where a motorist killed 8-year-old Rylee Ramos, when people complained that a play street at a different school would interfere with their driving.

Responding to complaints from motorists, Bronx CB 8 postponed a decision on a play street application from the school where Rylee Ramos was killed by a curb-jumping driver.

When motorists complained, Bronx CB 8 postponed a decision on a play street application from the school where Rylee Ramos was killed by a curb-jumping driver.

The Riverdale Press reports that the 50th Precinct has joined P.S. 307, Horace Mann School, and St. Margaret’s of Cortona in requesting that CB 8 sign off on opening street space to kids during school days. The schools already cordon streets for children, but they want to make it official, which NYPD says is important in the event of a crash.

“By formalizing this process and enforcing it, responsibility for an accident would land squarely on the shoulders of the driver,” Deputy Inspector Terence O’Toole, commanding officer of the 50th Precinct, told the Press.

In 2014 a motorist backed onto the sidewalk on Eames Place outside P.S. 307 in Kingsbridge Heights, striking 10 people and killing Ramos. Since then, according to the Press, the 50th Precinct has positioned barricades to keep motorists off the street at drop-off and dismissal times.

While Horace Mann and St. Margaret’s are applying for drop-off and dismissal play street hours, P.S. 307, which doesn’t have a playground, wants to keep one block of Eames Place open to children for the entire school day.

“We are desperate to find a place for our students to go out and to be able to run around and just have some exercise,” P.S. 307 assistant principal Debra Springsteen told the CB 8 land use committee at a meeting last month. “There’s 150 kids in the lunchroom. They’re screaming at each other in the lunchroom because they just don’t get a chance to be outside. So, that’s why we’re imploring.”

DOT requires that school play street applications be endorsed by the local precinct and community board, and the committee chose to postpone a vote on all three requests until September. “The panel said the delay would allow more time for the community to discuss the issue,” the Press reported.

Despite entreaties from NYPD and school officials, disgruntled motorists carried the day.

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Electeds Urge DOT to Make Safety Improvements PS 41 Parents Asked For

Elected officials, Community Board 2, and parents and staff at PS41 want a protected bike lane and shorter crossing distances on Seventh Avenue South. Is DOT listening?

Elected officials, Community Board 2, and parents and staff at PS41 want a protected bike lane and shorter crossing distances on Seventh Avenue South. Is DOT listening? Image: PDF

Local, state, and federal electeds are calling on DOT to make long-sought safety improvements in the West Village, including a protected bikeway on Seventh Avenue South.

In a June 30 letter to DOT, City Council Member Corey Johnson, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assembly Member Deborah Glick, State Senator Brad Hoylman, and U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler asked DOT to act on street safety resolutions passed by Community Board 2 in 2014.

One of those resolutions requested that DOT expand the West Village Slow Zone, installed in 2015, east from Seventh Avenue to Sixth Avenue, with north-south boundaries at W. 11th Street and W. Houston Street. The other called for a redesign of Seventh Avenue South from Canal Street to W. 14th Street, including a protected bike lane, shorter crosswalks, and more pedestrian space [PDF].

The campaign for Seventh Avenue improvements is spearheaded by parents and staff at PS 41, which is located on W. 11th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues.

“As children and their caregivers travel to and from the school, they are too often forced to navigate among speeding cars — conditions that have resulted in both actual hits and near misses,” the letter [PDF] reads. “The same school community would also benefit from a Complete Street redesign of Seventh Avenue, which has the potential to greatly improve pedestrian crossing times and reduce traffic collisions.”

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Video: Rampaging Sidewalk Driver Injures Child in Williamsburg

A hit-and-run motorist sped down sidewalks in Williamsburg Thursday, injuring a child as pedestrians scrambled to get out of harm’s way.

Yeshiva World reports that the driver and at least one other man were suspected of trying to pass counterfeit money at stores in the vicinity of Bedford Avenue and Lee Avenue, in the 90th Precinct. After shopkeepers tipped off Williamsburg Shomrim, the men tried to flee by driving on the sidewalk.

Video shows the motorist driving a Toyota sedan at a high rate of speed as people dodge out of the way. At one point the driver backs off the curb as witnesses try to get him to stop.

WCBS reported that a 9-year-old boy was hospitalized with injuries to his leg.

The driver crashed the car after the sidewalk rampage, hitting another vehicle at Harrison Avenue and Hopper Street before he was caught during a foot pursuit. The other suspects got away.

The NYPD public information office told us no arrests have been made and said police are still investigating.

h/t Gothamist

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Health Department: Car Crashes Remain Leading Injury Killer of NYC Kids

The blue line represents the total number of children killed by motorists. The brown, orange and peach lines line represent non-Hispanic black, non-Hispanic white, and Hispanic victims, respectively. Graph: DOH

The blue line represents the total number of children killed by New York City motorists. The brown, orange and peach lines line represent black, white, and Latino victims, respectively. Graph: DOH

Fewer New York City children are dying in traffic, but car crashes continue to be the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among kids ages 1 to 12, according to an annual child mortality report issued by the Department of Health [PDF].

New York City motorists killed 44 children between 2009 and 2013, according to the DOH. That’s a decrease from 67 deaths between 2004 and 2008. Fires were the second leading cause of unintentional child injury death during the latest reporting period, with 16 fatalities between 2009 and 2013.

The report distinguishes between “unintentional” injury deaths and deaths that were classified as homicides and suicides.

The decline in deaths caused by motor vehicle collisions occurred mainly among black children, the DOH reports. However, disparities probably remain. The report doesn’t spell out per capita traffic fatality rates by race or income, but kids living in the poorest neighborhoods are more likely to suffer unintentional fatal injuries, and the fatal injury rate among black children is higher than among white, Asian, or Latino children:

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No Right of Way Charge for Driver Who Killed Toddler in Bronx Crosswalk

The driver who killed 3-year-old Mariam Dansoko narrowly avoided striking her mother and a younger sibling. Will Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark file charges against him?

The driver who killed 3-year-old Mariam Dansoko narrowly avoided striking her mother and a younger sibling. Will Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark (right) file charges against him?

Update: Darcel Clark’s office sent us this statement: “Our office is investigating the incident with the NYPD Accident Investigation Squad, as we do with any fatality or serious injury when a pedestrian is struck.”

NYPD and Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark have not charged the driver who struck and killed 3-year-old Mariam Dansoko in a crosswalk near Yankee Stadium Monday.

Mariam, her mother, and a 2-year-old sibling in a stroller were crossing E. 164th Street at Gerard Avenue north to south when a 21-year-old man hit Mariam with a 2014 Nissan while turning left from Gerard, which is northbound, onto E. 164th, according to NYPD and published reports. DNAinfo reported that Mariam was on her way to preschool when the crash occurred, at around 8 a.m.

“There’s no charges at this point,” an NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog. True to NYPD protocol when a motorist kills a pedestrian and is not charged or ticketed, police shielded the driver’s identity.

We have a message in with Clark’s office asking whether the DA is investigating the crash.

E. 164th Street and Gerard Avenue are one-way residential streets that meet at a signalized intersection. There is no dedicated turn phase, meaning motorists and pedestrians are signaled to enter the crossing at the same time. If they entered the crosswalk before the pedestrian signal flashed orange, Mariam’s family would have had the right of way.

E. 164th Street at Gerard Avenue. The white arrow indicates the path of Mariam and her family, and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver, according to NYPD’s account of the collision. Image: Google Maps

E. 164th Street at Gerard Avenue. The white arrow indicates the path of Mariam and her family, and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver, according to NYPD’s account of the collision. Image: Google Maps

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Driver Kills Toddler in the Bronx as NYPD and the Press Declare “Accident”

E. 164th Street and Gerard Avenue, where a driver killed a 3-year-old this morning. Image: Google Maps

E. 164th Street and Gerard Avenue, where a driver killed a 3-year-old this morning. Image: Google Maps

Update: WPIX identified the victim as Mariam Dansoko. WPIX and other outlets are reporting that the driver, a 21-year-old man, was turning left from Gerard Avenue onto E. 164th Street when he hit her.

A driver killed a 3-year-old girl in the Bronx this morning. NYPD filed no charges and almost immediately told the press the crash was an “accident.”

An NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog the victim “was walking behind her mom” at E. 164th Street and Gerard Avenue, not far from Yankee Stadium, when she was hit by the driver of a black Nissan.

The crash occurred at around 8 a.m. The police spokesperson had no details on who had the right of way. The driver was not charged criminally and was not issued a traffic ticket.

Media reports said the victim’s mother was pushing a stroller with a second child inside. They were not reported to be injured.

Details are still scarce, but the Post, the Daily News, and WABC all repeated information from the police concerning the actions of the child and her mother, while downplaying or ignoring the role of the driver who took the child’s life.

“The little girl tried to keep up, but was struck by a driver,” the Post said.

“The collision appeared to be an accident, police said,” read the News.

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Driver Pleads to Manslaughter for Killing 12-Year-Old on Brooklyn Sidewalk

Update: Robert DeCarlo was sentenced to five to 15 years in prison.

A man who drove a stolen minivan into a woman and her two children on a Brooklyn sidewalk, killing a 12-year-old girl and leaving the other victims with life-altering injuries, has pled guilty to manslaughter.

Joie Sellers

Joie Sellers

Robert DeCarlo hit Joie Sellers, her 9-year-old sister Charlie, and their mother Marcia Landais, 38, as the victims walked on Flatlands Avenue near E. 46th Street on July 2, 2014.

The Daily News reported that DeCarlo knocked down a fence and hit a fire hydrant before coming to a stop. “He was going 120 miles an hour,” one witness told the News. “He lost control. It was crazy.”

“One of the babies was under the car,” the witness said. “We pushed the car up. I take the baby out.”

Joie died at Kings County Hospital. The Post reported that Charlie was rendered blind and paralyzed by the crash, and that Landais sustained a fractured pelvis.

DeCarlo, who reportedly had a criminal background, ran from the scene on foot, and later turned himself in to police. District Attorney Ken Thompson filed over a dozen charges against him, including manslaughter, assault, leaving the scene, driving without a license, reckless endangerment, reckless driving, and speeding.

Last Friday, DeCarlo pled guilty to manslaughter, a class C felony, and four counts of assault, a class D felony, according to court records. He is scheduled to be sentenced later this month.