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Driver Who Killed Man While Fleeing NYPD Pleads to Manslaughter

The press reported that Raymond Ramos was chased by police before he crashed into another vehicle and killed Dave Jones on a Brooklyn sidewalk. Image: News 12

The press reported that Raymond Ramos was chased by police before he crashed into another vehicle and killed Dave Jones on a Brooklyn sidewalk. Image: News 12

A driver who killed a man on a Brooklyn sidewalk while attempting to evade police pled guilty to manslaughter.

Police pulled Raymond Ramos over at Sterling Place and Schenectady Avenue in Crown Heights shortly after midnight on March 9, 2015. As officers approached his car, Ramos, then 18, drove off.

The Post and DNAinfo reported that police chased Ramos before he hit a second vehicle at Nostrand Avenue and St. Johns Place, about a mile away from the traffic stop. The impact sent both vehicles onto the sidewalk, fatally striking 21-year-old Dave Jones.

Photos published by the Daily News show both vehicles heavily damaged and overturned in front of a neighborhood shop, next to a shattered bus shelter. Three other vehicle occupants were reported injured.

NYPD and District Attorney Ken Thompson charged Ramos with manslaughter, two counts of assault, homicide, reckless endangerment, fleeing police, reckless driving, unlicensed driving, speeding, and other traffic infractions. On May 31, Ramos pled guilty to manslaughter, the top charge against him, according to court records.

It was never clear how much NYPD’s pursuit contributed to the crash.

NYPD policy says police must terminate vehicular pursuits “whenever the risks to uniformed members of the service and the public outweigh the danger to the community.” When Streetsblog asked Mayor de Blasio’s office if NYPD was investigating whether the police who stopped Ramos followed department protocol, we received a one-sentence, generic response: “The Crash Investigation Squad is conducting a full investigation.”

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DA Ken Thompson Still Hasn’t Charged Driver for December Sidewalk Killing

The allegedly unlicensed driver who killed Victoria Nicodemus on the sidewalk faces a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Her family says Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson seems OK with that.

The allegedly unlicensed driver who killed Victoria Nicodemus on the sidewalk faces a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Her family says Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson seems OK with that.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson charged the driver who killed Victoria Nicodemus on a Fort Greene sidewalk with unlicensed driving, but did not file charges for taking the victim’s life. Six months after the crash, Nicodemus’s family says the DA is dragging his feet on the case.

Marlon Sewell hit Nicodemus, her boyfriend, and another person with a Chevrolet SUV on the afternoon of December 6, 2015, as the victims walked in front of 694 Fulton Street, near South Portland Avenue. Police told WPIX Sewell was “zooming” down the street. An NYPD statement said Sewell swerved onto the sidewalk to avoid hitting a second vehicle, which witnesses said was a bus.

“The bus stop was right there. He didn’t realize it was stopping,” a witness told the Daily News. “The driver went up on the curb trying to avoid it. He was going pretty fast.”

Victoria Nicodemus was 30 years old.

The current charges against Sewell are aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, an unclassified misdemeanor, and operating a motor vehicle while unlicensed, a traffic infraction. For crashing on a sidewalk reportedly at a high rate of speed, killing one person and injuring two others, allegedly while driving without a valid license, Sewell faces a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. That’s the same penalty an unlicensed driver would face for making a turn without signaling.

“It seems to my family that they’re really beginning to be OK with just standing pat on the misdemeanor charges, and for us that’s unacceptable,” says Hank Miller, Nicodemus’s brother.

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Driver Who Injured Woman on Manhattan Sidewalk Pleads to Two Felonies

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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Driver Who Killed Xiali Yue Pleads Guilty to Violating Victim’s Right of Way

Cropsey Avenue and 21st Avenue in Brooklyn, where Alexander Smotritsky killed Xiali Yue with a car. The white arrow indicates the path of the victim, and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver. Image: Google Maps

Cropsey Avenue and 21st Avenue in Brooklyn, where Alexander Smotritsky killed Xiali Yue with a car. The white arrow indicates the path of the victim, and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver. Image: Google Maps

A driver who struck and killed a woman in a Brooklyn crosswalk pled guilty to a Right of Way Law violation.

The crash happened at around 8:13 on the morning of March 16, 2015. Xiali Yue, 61, was crossing Cropsey Avenue at 21st Avenue in Bensonhurst, in a crosswalk with the walk signal, when Alexander Smotritsky hit her with a Ford compact as he turned right from 21st onto Cropsey, according to Patch and Daily News stories published shortly after the crash.

Smotritsky, then 39, was charged under Section 19-190, also known as the Right of Way Law, which is an unclassified misdemeanor. Police also charged him with careless driving, a traffic infraction.

The Right of Way Law took effect in August 2014. The crash that killed Yue was one of the early instances of NYPD applying the law to penalize a motorist for killing a person who was following traffic rules.

The Daily News used the prosecution of the driver who killed Yue — the paper’s editorial board said she was “fatally bowled over” — to criticize Section 19-190 as a “tool for changing driving habits that are generally tolerated.” Historically, sober drivers who killed people in New York City crosswalks could expect to receive no penalty at all, as long as they stayed at the scene and cooperated with police.

Section 19-190 carries a fine of up $250 and a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail. Court records say Smotritsky entered a guilty plea on April 19, and on April 29 was sentenced to a $200 fine.

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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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SI Driver Charged With Manslaughter for Killing Cyclist With Boat Trailer

A motorist was charged with manslaughter for the death of a Staten Island cyclist who was struck by a boat trailer that detached from a truck.

Alexa Cioffi. Photo via SI Advance

Alexa Cioffi. Photo via Staten Island Advance

Alexa Cioffi and her friend Briana Emanuele were riding on Hylan Boulevard at Redgrave Avenue on the afternoon of September 14, 2015, when the driver of an SUV, who was towing a boat, attempted to pass them on their left.

The trailer carrying the boat became unhitched from the truck and struck both victims. Emanuele, then 22, was injured, and Cioffi, who was 21, was killed.

Last month, District Attorney Michael McMahon charged Michael Khmil with manslaughter, homicide, misdemeanor assault, and reckless endangerment, according to court records.

From the Staten Island Advance:

According to the indictment, Khmil’s SUV was pulling a boat trailer with a maximum hauling capacity of 3,000 pounds, yet the boat weighed in excess of 4,000 pounds.

Khmil failed to secure the trailer to his SUV with chains and also failed to install a braking system on the trailer as prescribed by warning labels affixed to the trailer, contends the indictment.

As a result, the trailer detached from Khmil’s SUV and struck Cioffi and Emanuele while traveling at a speed exceeding 20 miles per hour, the indictment alleges.

Manslaughter, the top charge against Khmil, is a class C felony that carries penalties ranging from probation to 15 years in prison.

Khmil’s next scheduled court date is set for next week.

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Truck Driver Charged With Reckless Driving for Killing Heather Lough at NYBG

A truck driver struck and killed a woman outside the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx last week. He has been charged with reckless driving and failure to yield.

Heather Lough. Photo via YouCaring

Heather Lough. Photo via YouCaring

The victim, 29-year-old Heather Lough, was heading to her job at the botanical garden on the morning of Wednesday, April 27, when Robert Owens, 45, hit her with a commercial box truck, according to NYPD and an online memorial page established to raise funds for Lough’s burial expenses.

The crash happened at around 9:30 a.m. outside NYBG’s Mosholu Gate. Police said Owens drove out of the botanical garden and made a left turn onto Southern Boulevard, striking Lough with the front bumper of the truck on the passenger side. An anonymous tipster told Streetsblog witnesses saw Owens “on his phone” at the time of the collision.

NYPD said Lough was leaving the Metro-North Botanical Garden Station, across the street from the NYBG, when she was struck. It’s not clear if Lough was biking or walking (the tipster said Lough was seen walking her bike), but in either case, she would have had the right of way.

Lough was taken to Jacobi Hospital with head and body trauma. She died on Monday.

Police charged Owens, who lives in Manhattan, with reckless driving. He was also charged under the city’s Right of Way Law. Both offenses are unclassified misdemeanors. The NYPD public information office said the department’s Collision Investigation Squad is still investigating the crash.

A second source who works at NYBG and asked to remain anonymous said the intersection is “very dangerous” and drivers “regularly speed through the light.”

“She was wearing her helmet, followed the signs, and did everything right,” Lough’s memorial page reads. “However, the driver was not paying attention, and ran over her.”

It’s unknown who owns the truck Owens was driving. A botanical garden representative told Streetsblog Owens does not work there.

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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.

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Another Person Killed by Turning Motorist in the 109th Precinct

Council Member Peter Koo, Representative Grace Meng, Deputy Inspector Thomas Conforti, Assembly Member Mike Simanowitz, and Assembly Member Ron Kim. Motorists have killed at least three people walking in the 109th Precinct since these officials held a press event last November to blame victims of traffic violence.

Council Member Peter Koo, Representative Grace Meng, Deputy Inspector Thomas Conforti, Assembly Member Mike Simanowitz, and Assembly Member Ron Kim. Motorists have killed at least three people walking in the 109th Precinct since these officials held a press event last November to blame victims of traffic violence.

An ambulette driver was charged under the Right of Way Law for striking and killing a pedestrian in Flushing.

The crash happened Tuesday at around 8:57 a.m. The victim — a 57-year-old man whose name has not been released by police, pending family notification — was crossing 35th Avenue in the crosswalk when Ramon Ortiz, 55, struck him with an SUV while turning left onto the avenue from Prince Street, according to NYPD and reports from the Daily News and QNS.com.

The victim died at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Ortiz was arrested and charged with violating the victim’s right of way, a police spokesperson told Streetsblog.

The victim was at least the third pedestrian killed by a motorist in the 109th Precinct this year, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. In at least one other case the victim was struck by a driver making a turn. The precinct is where a driver who failed to yield killed 3-year-old Allison Liao in 2013.

Officers in the 109th Precinct ticketed 867 drivers for failing to yield and 738 drivers for speeding in 2015, according to NYPD summons data. In response to a series of pedestrian fatalities last year, the precinct and local electeds made a show of blaming people for their own deaths.

Prince Street and 35th Avenue in Flushing, where a pedestrian was struck and killed by a driver who police say failed to yield. Image: Google Maps

Prince Street and 35th Avenue in Flushing, where a pedestrian was struck and killed by a driver who police say failed to yield. Image: Google Maps

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Associated Press Cautions Journalists That Crashes Aren’t Always “Accidents”

The Associated Press has tweaked its guidance for journalists about when to call traffic collisions “accidents.”

Street safety advocates, spearheaded by New York City’s Transportation Alternatives, have been pushing police and media organizations to drop the term “accident” because it implies the absence of culpability — often before all the facts are in — and makes traffic collisions seem like random, unpreventable acts of God.

The AP style guide, a highly influential reference book for reporters, currently doesn’t take a stance on whether “accident” is appropriate. A web addendum to the guide does recommend against “accident” because it’s not a neutral term, but the guide itself refers to collisions as “accidents” multiple times.

The new style guide will be released June 1 and cautions against calling a crash an “accident” in cases “when negligence is claimed or proven.” The AP tweeted today that “crash, collision or other terms” should be used instead.

The strange thing about the revised guidance is that “accident” is still the default term, instead of a term reserved for cases in which the absence of fault has been ascertained.

Under the AP’s guidance, journalists reporting breaking news about collisions would continue to use the loaded term “accident” before an investigation has determined whether negligence or recklessness was a factor.

But hey, the AP isn’t known for rapid adaptation. It’s just getting around to blessing a lowercase “I” when spelling the word “internet.”