The truck driver who killed a cyclist in Queens yesterday was charged with homicide after he tested positive for cocaine.
NYPD said Dennis Forceri, 57, drove a tractor-trailer into 34-year-old Anna Rodriguez while making a right turn at 56th Road and 48th Street at around 8:45 a.m. Rodriguez suffered trauma to her head and body and died at Elmhurst Hospital.
WCBS reported that Rodriguez lived in Ridgewood and was a single mother with a young son.
A motorist, Eddie Ewald, told WCBS the area where the crash occurred, in a warehouse district, is “extremely chaotic” during morning hours. “Everybody’s speeding through here,” Ewald said.
“The car is not really paying attention to you, making turns when you’re right next to them, pulling into parking spots,” said cyclist Daniel Salvatierra. “It’s terrifying.”
DOT’s Vision Zero data map shows crashes are common on 56th Road, with many injuries to motor vehicle occupants, a sign of high-speed collisions.
Police initially said Forceri was charged with driving with a revoked license. He was later charged with first degree vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, driving under the influence of drugs, aggravated unlicensed operation, failure to yield, and careless driving, according to Gothamist and AMNY. Forceri’s case did not turn up in a search of online court records early this afternoon.
NYPD has not yet released the name of the company that owns the truck Forceri was driving. Serious crashes caused by unlicensed or impaired commercial drivers are not unusual in NYC. There should be sanctions for companies that allow such drivers behind the wheel.
This morning Public Advocate Letitia James issued a statement on the most recent series of pedestrian and cyclist deaths at the hands of reckless drivers:
Over the past eleven days, five pedestrians and one cyclist were killed by motor vehicles in New York City. We must continue to work together to achieve Vision Zero, which requires good street design, education, and enforcement. Too many innocent New Yorkers are dying on our City’s streets and sidewalks, and we have a moral and civil responsibility to use every tool in our arsenal to make our City safer.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown is known for pleading down cases against drivers who kill people, rather than taking them to trial, even when defendants are accused of committing high-level felonies like aggravated vehicular homicide and manslaughter. Streetsblog will follow the case against Forceri as it progresses.