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 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.”