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Posts from the Hit-and-Run Category

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Curb Jumper’s License Revoked Six Months for Killing Mallory Weisbrod

Dimas Debrito, the curb-jumping driver who killed 24-year-old Mallory Weisbrod and injured two others last August, pled guilty on Thursday to two misdemeanors for reckless endangerment and failure to exercise due care leading to serious physical injury. He will also agree to a six-month license suspension. In another case, a driver will receive six months jail time after pleading to a fatal February hit-and-run in Richmond Hill, Queens.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance

Debrito, 64, was driving southbound on Second Avenue at more than twice the 25 mph speed limit when he veered his silver Mercedes through the intersection with 49th Street and over the southwest curb at 4:24 p.m. on August 10, 2015. He struck Weisbrod, pinning her body against a light pole, according to court documents provided by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. Weisbrod succumbed to her injuries five days later.

After an investigation by NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad, including video evidence, Vance brought charges against Debrito in October, according to court documents. In addition to the two charges included in the plea bargain, Vance had also been charging Debrito with a third misdemeanor, for reckless driving. A Vance spokesperson declined to comment when asked why this third charge was not included in the final plea deal.

At his sentencing on September 23, Debrito will also receive 30 days of community service, mandatory enrollment in an “aggressive driving program,” and a $1,000 fine, according to Vance’s office.

Weisbrod was one of fourteen pedestrians killed by curb-jumping drivers in 2015, according to data compiled by Streetsblog. Since her death, NYC DOT has moved forward a plan to extend the Second Avenue protected bike lane,  including the intersection where Weisbrod was killed. Protected bike lanes lead to a 22 percent reduction in pedestrian injuries in the three years after they are installed, according to DOT.

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Hit-and-Run Dollar Van Driver Strikes Couple, Kills Man on Flatbush Avenue

Angel and Samantha Sagardia were struck by a commuter van while attempting to cross the wide expanse of Flatbush Avenue outside Kings Plaza Mall. Photo: Google Maps

A dollar van driver struck Angel and Samantha Sagardia, killing Angel, on this wide expanse of Flatbush Avenue outside Kings Plaza Shopping Center before fleeing. Photo: Google Maps

Drivers killed two pedestrians in separate crashes in Queens and Brooklyn on Friday and Saturday. In one case, police are still looking for the driver of a minibus who fled the scene after striking a couple, killing a man and critically injuring his wife.

At about 5:00 p.m. Friday afternoon, 47-year-old Angel Sagardia and his wife Samantha Sagardia, 50, were crossing Flatbush Avenue from west to east between Avenue U and Avenue V, near the Kings Plaza Shopping Center, when the driver of a Ford Omnibus dollar van struck them both.

Police believe an unlicensed man was driving the illegal commuter van above when he struck Angel and Samantha Sagardia. Photo: PIX

Police believe an unlicensed driver was behind the wheel of this minibus when he struck the Sagardias. Photo: WPIX

The couple was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where Angel passed away from severe head trauma. Samantha remains in critical condition.

Police located the vehicle on Saturday in East Flatbush near the corner of Rogers Avenue and Tilden Avenue, but the motorist — who WPIX reports is believed to be an unlicensed Haitian immigrant who was driving the dollar van illegally — remains at large. Witnesses told WCBS that the driver was speeding and did not stop after he struck the Sagardias, and motorists often drive above the speed limit on this section of Flatbush. NYPD says an investigation is ongoing.

In 2015, five pedestrians were injured on Flatbush Avenue at the intersections with Avenues U and V, according to Vision Zero View. Because it is such a dangerous location for pedestrians, Flatbush Avenue is a priority corridor and the crossing with Avenue U is a priority intersection in DOT’s Brooklyn Pedestrian Safety Acton Plan [PDF].

Friday’s fatal crash occurred in the 63rd Precinct, led by Captain Thomas W. Burke, which has given out 242 tickets for speeding through so far this year the end of July, according to NYPD data. The 63rd Precinct Community Council meets on the fourth Wednesday of every month at 8 p.m. in the Kings Plaza Mall Community Room.

It was the second fatal hit-and-run this year involving a commuter van, according to data compiled by Streetsblog, after 16-year-old Alexa Smith was killed in Rosedale in February.

Council Member Alan Maisel, who represents the area where the Sagardias were struck, said that illegal dollar vans have been “causing havoc” in his district for at least 15 years. “They speed, they throw trash out the window, they stop wherever they want to stop, block driveways, they urinate because they have no bathrooms that are accessible to them. They’re a menace,” he told Streetsblog this afternoon. “It’s a question of having the Taxi and Limousine Commission enforce the laws and, for whatever reason, the last two administrations have not taken [illegal dollar vans] as seriously as they should.”

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Hit-and-Run Driver Murders Cyclist, So 90th Precinct Tickets People on Bikes

A hit-and-run driver killed a cyclist in Williamsburg this weekend. Though police believe the motorist ran over the victim on purpose, the 90th Precinct responded by ticketing cyclists and handing out bike safety fliers.

Matthew Von Ohlen. Photo via Gothamist

Matthew von Ohlen. Photo via Gothamist

Matthew von Ohlen, 35, was riding his bike east on Grand Street between Manhattan Avenue and Graham Avenue at around 2:20 a.m. Saturday when the driver of a late model Camaro approached from behind. Police told WPIX the driver then slowed and edged into the bike lane.

The driver then hit Van Ohen’s [sic] rear tire and as the victim fell off his bike, the driver slammed into him again, running over him and dragging him about 20 to 30 feet.

The driver then sped off, heading east on Grand Street.

Video posted by Gothamist shows the motorist enter the painted bike lane and drive away, leaving the victim’s body in the street.

Von Ohlen was a co-founder of Bikestock, which operates bike repair vending machines in NYC and Massachusetts. The Daily News reported that he was on his way home from a bartending shift in Manhattan when he was killed.

WPIX posted footage of 90th Precinct officers ticketing cyclists at the scene of the crash. Gothamist said cops, shown blocking the bike lane in the WPIX story, were also handing out NYPD “Operation Safe Cycle” leaflets.

“When [cyclists] got to the intersection of Grand and Graham on their way, police officers were there to stop them and hand out pamphlets on cyclist safety,” Williamsburg resident Greg Fertel told Gothamist. “I found this to be pretty enraging — I don’t think that this was an issue of cyclist safety.”

Cops from the 90th Precinct, blocking the bike lane where Von Ohlen was killed by a homicide suspect, ticket cyclists and lecture them on bike safety. Image: WPIX

Cops from the 90th Precinct, blocking the bike lane where Von Ohlen was killed by a homicide suspect, ticket cyclists and lecture them on bike safety. Image: WPIX

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Why No Charges From Cy Vance for Hit-and-Run Killing of Noah Goldstein?

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance's office declined to comment on the hit-and-run death of Noah Goldstein.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office declined to comment on its investigation of the hit-and-run death of Noah Goldstein.

Nearly two weeks have passed since a sanitation truck driver struck and killed 21-year-old Noah Goldstein near Columbus Circle and left the scene. The driver has been identified, yet police and Manhattan DA Cy Vance have filed no charges. The truck operator who killed Goldstein is free to keep driving on NYC streets.

NYPD and Vance say an investigation is ongoing but otherwise offered no explanation for the lack of charges when Streetsblog asked for an update on the case today.

Police found Goldstein lying in the crosswalk at Broadway and West 61st Street at around 3:15 a.m. the morning of June 18, a Saturday. The driver was not on the scene when police arrived but was later identified. NYPD confirmed to Streetsblog this morning that the driver works for a private sanitation firm.

At Tuesday night’s 20th Precinct Community Council meeting, Captain Levon Holley said the driver “may not have known that he struck an individual” and that investigators are “not pursuing any criminal charges at this time,” the West Side Rag reported. “Evidence points to it being an accident due to the fact that it was a garbage truck,” he said.

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NYC Motorists Killed Four People Walking and Biking This Weekend

Po Chu Ng was killed on Sixth Avenue by a driver in an SUV with TLC plates as she crossed the street with the right of way. The driver was not charged. Image: Google Maps

Po Chu Ng was killed on Sixth Avenue by a driver in an SUV with TLC plates as she crossed the street with the right of way. The driver was not charged. Image: Google Maps

New York City motorists killed four people walking and biking this weekend. One of the victims was struck in a Midtown crosswalk while crossing with the right of way, but NYPD and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance haven’t filed charges against the driver.

Po Chu Ng was crossing Sixth Avenue at W. 30th Street at approximately 5:15 Saturday afternoon when a driver struck her with a GMC SUV while turning left onto the avenue, the Daily News and Gothamist reported.

Ng, 52, was pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital. The driver was a 27-year-old man. WABC reporter CeFaan Kim tweeted a photo showing that the SUV had Taxi and Limousine Commission plates. A Daily News photo shows the SUV sitting in the crosswalk with a pool of blood on the street in front of it.

An NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog Ng was crossing Sixth Avenue on the north side of the intersection, west to east, in the crosswalk with the pedestrian signal “in her favor.” But as of this afternoon, the driver, whose name was not released, did not face charges under the Right of Way Law. The spokesperson said the crash is still being investigated.

As part of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, in 2014 NYC adopted the Right of Way Law, which penalizes motorists for harming pedestrians and cyclists who are following traffic rules, and Cooper’s Law, which gives the TLC a mechanism to revoke the TLC licenses of cab drivers who kill people who are walking and biking with the right of way. NYPD enforcement of the Right of Way Law remains inconsistent, and the TLC does not use Cooper’s Law, in part because police and district attorneys rarely file charges after a serious crash.

Three of this weekend’s fatal crashes were hit-and-runs, prompting Transportation Alternatives to call on state lawmakers to act this week to toughen penalties against drivers who flee crash scenes.

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Driver Who Injured Woman on Manhattan Sidewalk Pleads to Two Felonies

Update: Tiffany Murdaugh was sentenced to two to six years in prison.

A woman who hit a pedestrian on a Lower Manhattan sidewalk and left the scene pled guilty to two felony charges this week.

Cy Vance. Photo: Manhattan DA

On April 13, 2015, Tiffany Murdaugh drove her Dodge Challenger over the curb on Beekman Street near William Street, striking Heather Hensl and nearly hitting a second woman and two children as she sped down the sidewalk.

The crash happened outside Spruce Street School. Parents who have kids at the school told DNAinfo motorists often use the sidewalk to drive around traffic.

“I just saw this woman somersaulting in the air and then she landed on the sidewalk,” a witness told DNAinfo. “[Murdaugh] drove on the sidewalk as if it was a lane. So fast that I turned my head and I didn’t see the car.”

Hensl, then 37, sustained a broken knee and a head laceration.

Murdaugh did not stop. Though police had video evidence, NYPD hesitated to file charges, in part because Murdaugh lived out of state.

A few weeks after the crash, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance charged Murdaugh with two counts of assault, reckless endangerment, and leaving the scene. On Wednesday Murdaugh pled guilty to assault and reckless endangerment charges, both class D felonies, according to Vance’s office.

“This defendant careened onto a sidewalk near an elementary school at 8 o’clock in the morning on a school day,” Vance said in a statement. “It is a miracle that no one else was hurt by her recklessness. This driver not only narrowly missed a mother and her two young children, she seriously wounded a woman who had to endure months of physical therapy to rehabilitate her leg. I hope this conviction serves to deter reckless and illegal driving that endangers our City’s residents.”

It is rare for a motorist to be convicted of felony charges for injuring a New York City pedestrian, even in cases where the driver leaves the scene. The Vance press release said investigators relied on video and witness accounts to help make the case.

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

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Hit-and-Run Driver Kills 45-Year-Old Man Crossing 21st Street in Astoria

A hit-and-run driver killed a 45-year-old man last night at this intersection in Astoria, where there is neither a crosswalk nor a traffic signal. Image: Google Maps

DOT rejected a road diet on 21st Street last year, citing high traffic volumes. Image: Google Maps

Update: The victim in this crash was identified as Sean Crume, age 45, according to NYPD.

A hit-and-run driver killed a man walking across 21st Street in Astoria last night.

The crash occurred just before 11 p.m. at the intersection of 21st Street and 30th Road, where there’s an unmarked crosswalk with no traffic signal. The driver continued for half a block with the victim on the hood of the car before slamming the brakes and fleeing the scene, leaving the man lying in the road, according to PIX 11.

Police arrived at the scene at 10:56 p.m. in response to a 911 call. The victim was found lying in the street severely injured and rushed to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A police spokesperson told Streetsblog that NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad believes the suspect was driving a “dark colored sedan” heading southbound on 21st Street. No arrests have been made.

Responding to pressure from local residents and elected officials, DOT made some meager safety improvements to 21st Street last year. The agency held off on a more substantial redesign of 21st Street that would have reduced the number of general traffic lanes, citing high traffic volumes. The street is a favorite cut-through route for drivers heading to the free Queensboro Bridge.

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NYPD Clears Hit-and-Run Driver and Blames Deceased Victim in the Press

NYPD says a man struck by a hit-and-run driver in East Harlem killed himself by lying in the street. While psychologizing the deceased victim to the press, police defended the driver, and filed no charges against him for leaving the scene of a fatal crash.

Christopher Costa was hit on Madison Avenue at E. 115th Street between 9:30 and 10 p.m. Tuesday. Yesterday the Daily News reported that after Costa was struck, “several motorists drove around his body without even stopping.”

Christopher Costa was killed in East Harlem by a hit-and-run driver who was not charged. Photo via Daily News

Christopher Costa was killed in East Harlem by a hit-and-run driver who was not charged. Photo via Daily News

“He was face up, but his skull was open,” witness Vivian Rolon told the News. “The cars didn’t stop. They just kept driving around him.”

Costa was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Today the News and the Post reported that, according to anonymous police sources, Costa laid down in the street before he was run over. According to the News, in one video of the crash Costa “suddenly [shows] up lying motionless in the roadway behind a speeding car.” That video was posted by DNAinfo and is embedded above.

The News reported that a second video, which NYPD has not released to the press, “shows Costa walking into the street and lying down in a prone position before he was struck.” It’s unclear why NYPD released one video but not the one that depicts the police account of the crash.

The Post said Costa “committed suicide.” Two unnamed people, cited as “a police source and a witness,” told the News “Costa had a serious drug problem and had been drinking.” Police also noted that Costa was “wearing all black.”

While speculating to the media on the motives and actions of a victim who can’t speak for himself, with a helping of juicy gossip concerning his personal life, unnamed police sources absolved the driver, whose identity was shielded.

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Driver Who Killed Charity Hicks Pleads to Homicide and Leaving the Scene

The hit-and-run driver who struck and killed a Detroit woman as she waited for a bus in Hell’s Kitchen pled guilty to homicide and felony leaving the scene. He will serve a minimum of two and a maximum of six years in prison, pursuant to a judge’s plea offer.

Charity Hicks. Photo via Gothamist

Charity Hicks. Photo via Gothamist

Thomas Shanley drove a Dodge SUV onto the curb on 10th Avenue near W. 34th Street on May 31, 2014, hitting a pole that fell on Charity Hicks, according to court documents. Shanley fled the scene on foot and was arrested in New Jersey three months later.

Shanley is the son of a deceased NYPD officer. He was on parole at the time of the crash, according to the Daily News.

A Detroit human rights activist who was in the city for a conference, Hicks suffered severe head trauma and serious injuries to her chest. She died after weeks in the hospital. The crash also injured a second pedestrian.

The criminal court complaint said video showed Shanley “swerve across two lanes of traffic and onto the sidewalk.” Shanley’s cell phone, recovered at the scene, indicated the user was sending a text when the collision occurred, according to the complaint.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance initially charged Shanley with manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death — class C and D felonies, respectively. Vance later dropped the manslaughter charge and added a homicide charge, a less severe class E felony.

As Streetsblog reported in a prior story on this case, in New York City it is unusual for a hit-and-run driver who kills someone to be charged for taking a life. It’s possible that the evidence — crash video and phone records — coupled with Shanley’s criminal history led Vance’s office to pursue a homicide conviction despite dismissing the original manslaughter charge.

On Monday Shanley pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, criminally negligent homicide, and leaving the scene without reporting, according to Vance’s office and court records.

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Hit-and-Run Drivers Killed Three Victims in Four Hours on Sunday [Updated]


Fatal Park Slope hit and run by Gothamist

Correction: Park Slope Stoop reports that the Park Slope victim was walking, not riding a bike. The copy in this post has been altered accordingly.

Hit-and-run drivers killed three New York City pedestrians within a few hours on Sunday.

Jose Contreras, 63, was struck by the driver of a black SUV as he crossed Webster Avenue at E. 175th Street, near the Cross Bronx Expressway, at approximately 1:30 a.m., according to the Times and WABC.

A hit-and-run driver killed Jose Contreras on Webster Avenue in the Bronx. Photo via WPIX

A hit-and-run driver killed Jose Contreras on Webster Avenue in the Bronx. Photo via WPIX

WABC reports:

Contreras was celebrating his sister’s 80th birthday and pulled over his car, his family said. He was going back in to check on his family because they were taking awhile to get out of the catering hall, and was crossing the street when he was hit.

“I left my father in the car, and I figured that’s where he would be when I came back out,” Joseph Contreras, the victim’s son, told the Post. “But when I came back out, he was in the middle of the street, laying in his own blood.”

Contreras died at Saint Barnabas Hospital.

At around 4:40 a.m., 48-year-old Besik Shengelia was retrieving items from his SUV on 111th Street near 109th Avenue in South Ozone Park when he was struck by a driver who left the scene. The make and model of the vehicle that hit Shengelia is unknown. He was pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital.

WABC, which reported that Shengelia worked for Uber, spoke with witnesses, including a woman who stopped other drivers from running over Shengelia after he was hit.

“It’s a shame that people was driving by and nobody stopped. National Grid saw me stopping traffic, and they came and helped us,” says [Sonia] Ramirez.

“The street does have a problem late at night with people speeding up and down the street, basically, and something needs to change around here,” eyewitness David Moore says.

The Post reported that Shengelia was “a former commander of the Georgian navy during the country’s 2008 war with Russia” who moved to the city with his family.

About 20 minutes after Shengelia was struck, the driver of a Nissan Altima ran a red light and hit a pedestrian in Park Slope.

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