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Felony Hit-and-Run Charge for Driver Who Allegedly Killed Can Reng Ma

A suspect was arrested and charged in the hit-and-run killing of cyclist Can Reng Ma in Sheepshead Bay, and NYPD is making exculpatory statements on the alleged driver’s behalf.

Can Reng Ma

Can Reng Ma

Junior Hicks was charged with one count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury, a class D felony, according to court records. WABC reported that Hicks, 31, is from Queens.

On Tuesday Ma, 54, was riding his bike on Avenue U, on the way home from his job at a nearby lumber supply company, when he was fatally struck by the driver of a rented box truck. Police arrested Hicks yesterday afternoon.

No charges were filed for the act of taking Can Reng Ma’s life.

WABC spoke with relatives and friends of the victim, who reportedly came to the U.S. from China seven years ago:

Around the warehouse, Can Reng was known for his work ethic, generosity, a humble soul who adored his wife, daughter, and teenage son.

“We do love him, we feel so sorry about him,” [co-worker Kimmie] Kwok said.

Police told the press the person who killed Ma may not have seen him — a ready-made defense, since under state law prosecutions for hit-and-run crashes hinge on whether it can be proven that the driver knew or had reason to know a collision occurred. The vast majority of New York City motorists involved in hit-and-run crashes resulting in injury and death are never charged with a crime.

After Hicks was taken into custody, an NYPD spokesperson told Gothamist a “preliminary investigation indicates that Hicks did not know he had struck someone.”

Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, issued a statement today praising police for making an arrest, and called on NYPD to stop “making unauthorized statements to news outlets even though evidence [is] still being collected.”

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NYPD: Still Defending Hit-and-Run Drivers to the Press [Updated]

A video shows Can Reng Ma cycling on Avenue U as the truck driver suspected of killing him approaches from behind. Image: WNBC

Surveillance video shows Can Reng Ma cycling on Avenue U as the truck driver who killed him approaches from behind. NYPD told the press the driver may not have known he hit Ma because his truck was big and the crash happened too fast. Image: WNBC

Update: As of late Wednesday afternoon police have a suspect in custody and charges are pending, according to NYPD.

A hit-and-run driver killed a cyclist in Sheepshead Bay yesterday, and NYPD made excuses for the driver to the media.

Can Reng Ma, 54, was riding west on Avenue U near E. 9th Street at around 5 p.m. when he was hit by the driver of a box truck traveling in the same direction, according to the NYPD public information office and published reports. The driver did not stop.

Ma was the first New York City cyclist reported killed by a motorist in 2016. Image: WNBC

Ma was the first New York City cyclist reported killed by a motorist in 2016. Image: WNBC

Police told AMNY the truck was a 2016 Freightliner with Indiana plates, and the Post reported that it was a Ryder rental. The driver remained at large this afternoon, an NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog.

Ma, who came to the U.S. from China seven years ago, was on his way home from work when he was hit, according to WNBC, which posted video of the victim riding on the street as a large Ryder truck overtakes him. His death was the first reported cyclist fatality of 2016.

Locals told WNBC truck traffic poses a significant danger on this segment of Avenue U, where drivers double-park to unload. “Some days it is unbelievable what goes on over here,” one man said.

In New York City, most drivers who harm people and leave the scene are never charged with a crime. Provided police make an arrest, to win a hit-and-run conviction, state law requires prosecutors to prove a driver knew or had reason to know he hit someone and caused injury — a surprisingly high burden. Many cases are dropped, or are not pursued at all, once a driver claims he “didn’t see” the victim. Even the city’s recently adopted hit-and-run civil penalties depend on the drivers’ word.

Though establishing a hit-and-run driver’s knowledge that a collision occurred is crucial to seeing justice done for the victim, NYPD sources, as they have in the past, offered the person who killed Can Reng Ma a preemptive defense.

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Trucker Who Killed Woman Admits Negligence, NYPD Still Blames Victim

stopped_truck

Footage from the scene shows Floria Burton walking around a stopped truck blocking an unmarked crosswalk before the driver accelerated and ran her over. Still via Daily News

Update: The Daily News identified the Queens hit-and-run victim as Agalia Gounaris, 84, of Flushing. Police said the bus was located in Connecticut, en route to a casino, and that by that time evidence was lost due to rain. The driver was being questioned, the News reported.

Motorists took the lives of two people walking yesterday, bringing to eight the number of pedestrians killed by New York City drivers in the last week.

Floria Burton, 55, known locally as “Ms. Pat,” was pushing a laundry cart across Seneca Avenue at Bryant Avenue in Hunts Point at around 8:30 a.m. Thursday when a dump truck driver ran her over.

There are no traffic signals at Seneca and Bryant avenues. Video published by the Daily News shows Burton approach the corner and pause before walking around the front of the truck, which appears to be blocking an unmarked crosswalk. When she is directly in front of the truck, the driver accelerates into her.

Floria Burton. Photo via Daily News

Floria Burton. Photo via Daily News

Burton’s friend Maritza DeJesus, who saw what happened, spoke with the News:

“He backed up and went over her again,” she said. Burton was alive, but fading fast, DeJesus said, tears streaming down her face.

“I was talking to her. I was saying, ‘Pat, hold on! Pat, hold on! Pat, hold on!’ When she looked at me she didn’t even recognize me. She was already gone.”

Despite video evidence indicating otherwise, unnamed police sources gave the impression that an oblivious Burton stepped into the driver’s path as the truck approached. In a story with the headline “Woman talking on cell phone killed by dump truck,” the Post reported that Burton was “chatting on her cell phone when she was struck.”

“Witnesses said she was on the phone and did not see the truck coming when she was hit, according to police,” reported DNAinfo, which posted video that clearly indicates Burton was hit as she tried to walk around the stopped truck.

It is not clear from the video if Burton was talking on a phone, but she wasn’t holding one to her head. Meanwhile, NYPD filed no charges despite the driver’s admission that he wasn’t paying attention when he hit Burton. From the DNAinfo story:

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Trucker Who Killed Cyclist Anna Rodriguez Charged With Manslaughter

The truck driver who killed a cyclist in Queens yesterday was charged with homicide after he tested positive for cocaine.

Image: WNBC

Image: WNBC

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.

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Allegedly Unlicensed Truck Driver Kills Cyclist in Sunnyside

Image: WNBC

Image: WNBC

An allegedly unlicensed tractor-trailer driver killed a cyclist in Queens this morning.

The victim, a 34-year-old woman, was riding west on 56th Road in Sunnyside when the driver hit her while turning right onto 48th Street, according to NYPD and Gothamist. The crash happened at around 8:45. NYPD had not released the victim’s identity as of this afternoon pending family notification.

Police charged the truck driver with driving with a revoked license, an NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog. The department withheld the driver’s name.

The Post reported that the victim died at Elmhurst Hospital.

56th Road at 48th Street. Image: Google Maps

56th Road at 48th Street. Image: Google Maps

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NYPD: “No Criminality” as Truck Driver Kills Woman in Brooklyn Crosswalk

The white arrow represents the path of Latiesha Ramsey, and the red arrow the approximate path of the truck driver who hit her, based on NYPD’s account of the crash. Image: Google Maps

The white arrow represents the path of Latiesha Ramsey, and the red arrow the approximate path of the truck driver who hit her, based on NYPD’s account of the crash. Image: Google Maps

Update: NYPD told the Daily News the truck driver “had the right of way” when he drove over Latiesha Ramsey.

The driver of a box truck fatally struck a woman in a crosswalk in Bedford-Stuyvesant this morning. NYPD filed no charges.

Latiesha Ramsey, 37, was crossing Lafayette Avenue at around 10:20 when the driver ran her over while making a left turn from Lafayette onto Kossuth Place, NYPD told Gothamist. Police said Ramsey was walking south to north in the crosswalk.

Police told Gothamist “no criminality is suspected.” WABC reported that the driver, a 49-year-old man whose name was not released, “was not expected to be charged.”

Reports said Ramsey was pushing a cart of laundry. From DNAinfo:

A witness said the woman, who lived several blocks away on Patchen Avenue, was in the middle of the street heading north across Lafayette Avenue when the light turned green.

As the truck bore down on her, she tried to warn the driver.

“She put her hands up,” Renee Best, 25, who saw the accident, said. “[She yelled] whoa, whoa, whoa — boom.”

She was caught under the truck’s back tire, dragging her about ten feet and her laundry about a block north to Broadway.

“She was face down bleeding through her ears. [The driver] didn’t stop ’til everybody flagged him down,” said Nelson Diaz, 42, who lives nearby.

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NYPD: “No Criminality” When Drivers Collide, Kill Woman on Bronx Sidewalk

NYPD says no laws were broken when two motorists collided and one drove onto the sidewalk, killing Sheniqua Silva and injuring two other people as they waited for a bus. Image: WPIX

NYPD says no laws were broken when two motorists collided and one drove onto the sidewalk, killing Sheniqua Silva and injuring two other people as they waited for a bus. Image: WPIX

For the second time in less than a week, colliding motorists killed a person standing on a New York City sidewalk and NYPD filed no charges.

On Monday afternoon the driver of a Coca-Cola truck struck a passenger car before hitting a group of people who were waiting for a bus in Port Morris, killing 37-year-old Sheniqua Silva and injuring two other pedestrians. NYPD made no arrests after the crash and had no updates on the investigation today. Police “don’t believe there is any criminality on the part of the truck driver,” according to WNBC.

Sheniqua Silva. Image via WNBC

Sheniqua Silva. Image via WNBC

The crash occurred near the Bruckner Expressway at around 3:20 p.m. From the Times:

The fatal chain of events started on Bruckner Boulevard, the service road below the expressway, the police said. According to a preliminary investigation, a 52-year-old woman driving a 2013 Nissan S.U.V. crossed two lanes and cut in front of the truck to make a right turn on East 138th Street. Officials said the truck then struck the car before losing control.

Officials said the truck was driven by a 35-year-old man, but they did not release his name. A police spokesman said it appeared that no crime had been committed, but added that the investigation was continuing.

The truck came to a stop after hitting a building. Silva, who had just finished a shift at a nearby bakery, died at the scene. Reports said she had five children, all teenage boys. “She was always worried about our sons,” her husband, Orlando Silva, told the Daily News. “She worked hard and cared about them only.”

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Side Guard Pilot Almost Complete — Next Up, the Other 95% of City Trucks

A recently-installed side guard is part of a 240-truck pilot program. By 2024, all city trucks must have side guards. Photo: Joby Jacob/Twitter

A recently-installed side guard, part of a 240-truck pilot program. By 2024, all city trucks must have side guards. Photo: Joby Jacob/Twitter

In February, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a pilot program to add side guards, which prevent people from being dragged beneath the rear wheels of large vehicles, to 240 trucks in the city fleet. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which is managing the rollout, said today that it is two-thirds done with the project, and expects to have the job done by the end of the year. Still, there’s a long way to go before all city-owned trucks have this lifesaving add-on.

Side guards have proven effective at reducing fatality rates. In the United Kingdom, cyclist fatalities dropped 61 percent and pedestrian deaths fell 20 percent in side-impact crashes after side guards were required nationwide starting in 1986.

So far, 160 vehicles from 20 city agencies have had side guards installed. The Department of Education was the first agency to have its whole truck fleet outfitted, DCAS reported in June [PDF]. Other agency trucks that have received side guards include Parks, Environmental Protection, NYPD, and the Department of Finance.

The city is working with U.S. DOT’s Volpe Center, which issued a report last December recommending side guards on NYC-owned trucks, to evaluate the pilot program.

Although it will take almost a year to install side guards on 240 trucks, that’s just a drop in the bucket. The city’s 28,000-vehicle fleet includes approximately 4,500 trucks that are eligible for side guards. New York plans to equip all those trucks with side guards over the next eight years.

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NYPD Should Open Data on All Traffic Summonses, Not Just on Truck Routes

The public should know if NYPD is targeting traffic enforcement where it's most needed, even on streets that aren't truck routes. Image: Vision Zero View

The public should know if NYPD is targeting traffic enforcement where it’s most needed, even on streets that aren’t truck routes. Image: Vision Zero View

Legislation introduced by City Council members this week would require NYPD to publish data on crashes and summonses along NYC truck routes. The bill is intended to improve safety on truck routes, but a better approach would be to have NYPD post all traffic summons data.

Intro 919, introduced by council members Margaret Chin, Jimmy Van Bramer, and transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez, would require NYPD to compile stats on moving violations and crashes on city-designated truck routes and publish the numbers on a publicly accessible database. “With the information we will garner from this legislation we can ensure that we know and improve high risk truck routes,” Rodriguez said in a press release.

DOT already maps NYPD crash data for all streets citywide, albeit by intersection, so we know the streets where crashes occur. What the public doesn’t know is whether police are concentrating enforcement in areas where it’s most needed to prevent crashes. In 2014 Council Member Ben Kallos introduced a bill to require the city to release and map data on all moving violations — including date, time, and latitude and longitude coordinates — to be published at least once a month. Though Rodriguez is listed as a co-sponsor of the Kallos bill, it went nowhere.

According to DOT trucks are three times more likely to be involved in pedestrian deaths than other vehicles, yet the city has struggled to come up with a comprehensive plan to reduce the risks. A bill passed earlier this year requires DOT to complete an analysis of truck route safety by June 2016. In the meantime, oversize trucks are common on city streets, and street design improvements that would protect people — even on hellish truck routes like Canal Street — are not happening fast enough, to the extent that they’re in the pipeline at all. Adding tolls to East River bridges would get a lot of trucks off streets in Lower Manhattan, but toll reform requires action from Albany.

While Intro 919 is a nice idea, the City Council would do more good by passing the Kallos bill and increasing funds for physical improvements to make it safer to walk and bike.

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Will NYPD Charge Truck Driver Who Hit Cyclist in Corona Bike Lane?

A cyclist in a marked bike lane was hit by a truck driver making a right turn at 34th Avenue and 105th Street in Queens, according to NYPD. Image: Google Maps

A cyclist in a marked bike lane was hit by a truck driver making a right turn at 34th Avenue and 105th Street in Queens, according to NYPD. Image: Google Maps

A truck driver hit a cyclist in a bike lane in Queens yesterday, causing serious injuries. Though the police account of the crash indicates the cyclist had the right of way, NYPD has not charged the driver with violating the Right of Way Law.

The 19-year-old cyclist was traveling eastbound in the marked bike lane on 34th Avenue at approximately 1:15 a.m. Monday when the driver hit him while turning right onto 105th Street, inflicting critical injuries, according to the Post and NYPD.

The Collision Investigation Squad, a specialized NYPD unit that works only the most serious traffic crashes, was dispatched to the scene, a department spokesperson told Streetsblog. No summonses or charges had been issued as of this morning.

The NYPD public information office could not confirm who had the right of way. There is no dedicated turn signal for drivers on 34th Avenue at 105th Street. If the cyclist was proceeding with a green light and the driver hit him while turning right, the driver violated the Right of Way Law, according to attorney and traffic law expert Steve Vaccaro.

Even if the driver violated the victim’s right of way, that doesn’t necessarily mean police will file charges. Since the Right of Way Law took effect in August 2014, NYPD has applied the law only a few dozen times.

This collision occurred in the 115th Precinct and in the City Council district represented by Julissa Ferreras.