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Doctors Relate the Horror of Traffic Violence at Pedestrian Injury Summit

Medical professionals and transportation experts convened Thursday for the third New York City Summit on Pedestrian Injury, hosted by Elmhurst Hospital. The day-long event brought transportation officials and advocates together with doctors who witness the destruction caused by reckless drivers in the city every day.

Queens Boulevard continues to be "a problem" for emergency physicians at Elmhurst and Jamaica Hospitals, along other area streets. Photo: ##http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:QueensBlvd-GrandAve_PedWarning_Sign-Elmhurst.jpg##Wikipedia##

Along with other streets, Queens Boulevard continues to be “a problem” for emergency physicians at Elmhurst and Jamaica Hospitals. Photo: Wikipedia

The summit is chaired by Dr. Jamie Ullman, director of neurosurgery at Elmhurst, and Anju Galer, trauma coordinator for the hospital’s departments of surgery and nursing. Elmhurst is in year two of a three-year pedestrian and cyclist injury study. Ullman said 2012 marked an all-time high in the number of injuries within the hospital catchment area, and in 2013, she said, it’s a trend that shows “no signs of stopping.”

Dr. Kaushal Shah is the principal investigator for the study. Shah noted that media reports usually offer only the barest details of what happens in a traffic crash. To illustrate, he showed a slide of a recent story that reduced the deaths of two pedestrians to one short paragraph.

When a person is struck by a motorist, said Shah, it is “the worst day of their life.” For example, the first child hit by curb-jumping driver Francis Aung Lu in Maspeth in September was in the operating room for 10 hours, Shah said. Senior Cui Ju Yu, struck by a hit-and-run driver in Corona two weeks later, died from a brain hematoma*.

Most adult pedestrians who die are killed due to trauma to the head and neck, said Dr. George Agriantonis, director of trauma at Elmhurst. Injuries to the lower extremities often lead to significant disability. Flipping through slides of x-rayed and photographed images of grievous injuries, Agriantonis said compound fractures of the legs and shattered pelvises are common.

Injury patterns depend on the speed and type of vehicle, Agriantonis said. When an adult is struck by a passenger vehicle, there are usually three incidents of impact. The front of the vehicle hits the legs, which throws the victim onto the hood and windshield. The third impact occurs when the victim falls off the vehicle and hits the pavement or sidewalk.

Small children take the brunt of a collision to the torso and pelvis. Rather than being whipped onto the hood, said Agriantonis, because of their height children are thrown forward, and remain in the path of the vehicle.

Shah said researchers are seeing an increase in sidewalk crashes. Said Ullman: “I don’t know why these people are driving on the sidewalk.”

The Elmhurst catchment area is populated by 1.5 million people, Ullman said. Pedestrians hit by drivers were the leading injury category of emergency patients at Elmhurst from 2000 to 2009, and at 296, the number of pedestrians and cyclists admitted in 2012 was the hospital’s highest ever.

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Senior Killed by Bus Driver in Bronx; Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Man in Queens

Two NYC pedestrians were killed by motorists over the weekend. One of the victims was a senior; the other was struck by a hit-and-run driver in the City Council district represented by Eric Ulrich, where at least five pedestrians have died in traffic in 2013.

Gloria Mabry. Photo via Daily News

Gloria Mabry. Photo via Daily News

Last Friday evening at approximately 6:45 p.m., 74-year-old Gloria Mabry was walking to her Bronx home when she was hit by an MTA bus driver. According to reports, Mabry was pushing a grocery cart along Co-Op City Boulevard when the bus driver struck her while turning left from Co-Op City Boulevard onto Dreiser Loop.

From the Daily News:

Mabry ended up getting caught under the rear wheels of the bus, horrified witnesses said. Paramedics rushed Mabry to Jacobi Medical Center, but doctors were unable to save her.

“My mother was 74 years old and bringing home a cart of groceries,” Mabry’s son, Reginald Mabry, told News 12. “There’s no way whatsoever that a vehicle going a safe speed could not have seen that little lady.”

“It wasn’t immediately clear if Mabry had the light when she was crossing,” reported the AP. In other words, it’s not known who had the right of way. The NYPD public information office had no details on how the crash unfolded, or whether summonses were issued. A spokesperson said the investigation was “ongoing,” which often means police are awaiting toxicology reports on the victim.

Mabry was killed in the City Council district represented by Andy King, and in the 45th Precinct, where as of October local officers had issued 227 speeding tickets in 2013, and 16 citations for failure to yield to a pedestrian.

At around 3:15 a.m. Saturday, Yunior Antonio Perez Rodriguez, 35, was struck as he tried to cross Woodhaven Boulevard at Jamaica Avenue. He was pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital. The driver fled the scene.

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Erik Johnson, 24, First of Seven People Killed by NYC Drivers in Five Days

A young father struck while on his way to work was the first of at least seven people killed by New York City motorists since last Tuesday. Of the five crashes where the driver remained at the scene — three in Manhattan, one in Staten Island, and one in Queens — none were charged with a crime.

Erik Johnson. Photo via ##http://www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/flying-angel/111896##YouCaring.com##

Erik Johnson. Photo via YouCaring.com

Erik Johnson, 24, was crossing Rockaway Boulevard at Farmers Boulevard at around 6:19 a.m. on November 26 when he was hit by the driver of a Subaru Impreza, according to reports. An NYPD press notice published by Capital New York said Johnson, who was not immediately identified, suffered severe trauma to the head and body, and was pronounced dead on arrival at Jamaica Hospital. NYPD said the driver was traveling eastbound on Rockaway Boulevard as Johnson was crossing north to south, which would be in the direction of JFK Airport.

The NYPD notice was pasted into a story about a week-long motorist “ticket blitz,” described by police as “part of the NYPD’s ongoing effort to decrease traffic infractions and conditions that cause death and injury to pedestrians.”

An early report from DNAinfo said the driver who hit Johnson “was not expected to be charged with a crime.” As of today NYPD said it does not appear that the driver was charged or summonsed. When we asked if police had information on driver speed or who had the right of way, a spokesperson said there is no indication that the victim was in a crosswalk.

The intersection of Rockaway Boulevard and Farmers Boulevard is a wide and foreboding asphalt hellscape, with sidewalks on the north side of Rockaway Boulevard only. There is one crosswalk, also on the north side, across Farmers Boulevard. There is no marked pedestrian crossing on Rockaway Boulevard, where Johnson was killed. If the crash unfolded as described by NYPD, a crucial piece of information would be whether or not the driver was proceeding with the signal.

The Queens Courier reported that Johnson was the father of two girls, ages three and one. An online fundraiser, where a photo of Johnson was posted, was established for funeral expenses.

Erik Johnson was killed in the City Council district represented by Donovan Richards, and in the 105th Precinct. As of October precinct officers had issued 265 speeding tickets in 2013, and 83 summonses for failure to yield to a pedestrian. According to the precinct web site the next community council meeting is the last Wednesday in January.

Six others in addition to Johnson were reported killed by motorists while walking and biking in the city in five days last week.

At least 20 pedestrians and cyclists were killed by New York City drivers in November, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. Last month’s toll was the highest number of victims since last January, when 20 people died while walking and biking.

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Man Hit by Two Drivers Was Third Fatality in 109th Precinct in Two Months

College Point intersection where Brian Newell was hit by two drivers. Image: Google Maps

College Point intersection where Brian Newell was hit by two drivers. Image: Google Maps

A man was struck and killed by two motorists yesterday in a Queens precinct where drivers have killed at least two other people since late September.

Brian Nowell, 47, was crossing 14th Avenue at 129th Street in College Point at around 6:45 a.m. Tuesday when he was hit by a westbound driver in a Toyota Camry, according to NYPD and reports in the Times Ledger and Queens Courier. The impact of the collision threw Nowell into the opposite lane, and he was struck a second time by the driver of a Chevrolet Suburban. Nowell was pronounced dead at the scene.

Fourteenth Avenue has pedestrian curb cuts at 129th Street. But there are no crosswalk markings, and no signage or signals to indicate to motorists that people may be crossing the street. Crashes at the intersection in 2003 and 2006 resulted in injuries to two pedestrians, according to Transportation Alternatives’ CrashStat.

Regardless of street conditions, state law requires motorists to yield to pedestrians at unmarked crosswalks. Neither driver was immediately charged or summonsed by NYPD. A department spokesperson told Streetsblog the crash is still under investigation.

This fatal crash occurred in the 109th Precinct, where as of September officers had issued 588 speeding tickets in 2013, and 327 summonses for failure to yield to a pedestrian. During the same time frame, the 109th Precinct ticketed 2,920 vehicle occupants for not wearing a seatbelt. At least three pedestrians, including Michael Munoz and 3-year-old Allision Liao, have been killed by motorists in the precinct in the last two months.

To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Brian J. Maguire, the precinct’s commanding officer, go to the next community council meeting. The 109th Precinct council meetings happen at 7:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month at the precinct, 37-05 Union Street in Flushing. Call the precinct at 718-321-2268 for information.

The City Council district where Brian Nowell was killed is represented by lame duck Dan Halloran. He will be succeeded by Paul Vallone.

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NYC Motorists Killed Three Pedestrians on City Sidewalks Today


An unidentified man drove this yellow Chevrolet Camaro onto a Queens Boulevard sidewalk, killing two pedestrians. Photo: Christina Santucci/Times-Ledger

Three pedestrians were killed on NYC sidewalks today in two separate crashes. Just before 7:30 a.m. on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst, a 22-year-old man driving a new Camaro ran over and killed two men on the sidewalk, and just before 1 p.m., a woman was killed on an East Harlem corner after a taxi driver struck a box truck, which careened onto the sidewalk. So far, no charges have been filed, though witnesses say the Queens Boulevard driver was speeding and the East Harlem cabbie ran a red light, according to reports.

The driver of a yellow 2014 Chevrolet Camaro was heading westbound on Queens Boulevard when he crashed into two parked vehicles at Van Loon Street before jumping the curb and striking a phone booth, a lamp post, and two pedestrians — Man Chit Cheng, 59, and Muang Lin, 41 — who died at Elmhurst Hospital, according to FDNY.

Cheng, identified by the Post as Min Tin Cheng, was walking to work at a nearby construction site. He is survived by a wife and four grown children.

The driver, who has not been identified by police, was also transported to Elmhurst Hospital with minor injuries and is now in police custody on two outstanding warrants for failure to appear in court to face previous unspecified charges. The Collision Investigation Squad is investigating, and as of yet no charges have been filed relating to this crash. According to Gothamist, witnesses say the driver was speeding and crashed when he attempted to brake.

“The driver must’ve been speeding,” Council Member Danny Dromm told Streetsblog, adding that while speeding enforcement in the precinct has increased dramatically over last year, it’s not enough. “It’s going to take a while for it to sink in for drivers,” he said. “When people find out where speed cams or red light cams are, drivers take note and obey the law.” Dromm urged NYPD to take the investigation of these two men’s deaths seriously, and pointed to a march scheduled for tomorrow evening in his district to protest pedestrian deaths in Jackson Heights. “This is something that we can’t fool around with anymore,” he said. “We have to change people’s mentality on this. This is totally unacceptable.”

The crash occurred in the 110th Precinct, which issued 198 speeding tickets in September, the latest month for which information is available. Through the end of September, the precinct had issued 2,243 speeding tickets so far this year [PDF]. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Deputy Inspector Ronald D. Leyson, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 110th Precinct council meetings happen at 7:00 p.m. on the third Monday of the month at the Flander’s Field VFW Post #150, 51-11 108th Street. Call 718-476-9311 for information.

At 12:51 p.m., a taxi driver traveling westbound on East 102nd Street crashed into a box truck traveling southbound on Park Avenue, sending the truck into the southwest corner of the intersection, where it struck Olga Rivera, 65, who was standing on the sidewalk. She was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital.

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MTA Plans Busway Beneath the M Train in Ridgewood

The MTA is working on a plan for a short busway in Ridgewood that would run for six-tenths of a mile beneath the elevated M tracks, between Fresh Pond Road and Palmetto Street. While the project wouldn’t transform a car-choked traffic sewer into a pedestrian-friendly transit boulevard (the right-of-way is currently a series of weed-strewn parking lots), it could be NYC’s first new separated busway since the Fulton Mall opened in the 1970s.

The western end of the Ridgewood Busway route, beneath the elevated M train at Onderdonk Avenue. Photo: Google Maps

The busway would have one lane in each direction and three bus stops. (Overhead, the M train stops at Fresh Pond Road, Forest Avenue, and Seneca Avenue.)

In its recently-released 20-Year Capital Needs Assessment [PDF], the MTA said the busway, which leads directly to the Fresh Pond bus depot, ”will reduce travel times and reduce operating costs for several bus routes.” The MTA says the project would save approximately $1 million in operating costs annually.

Buses currently running east-west in the area are the Q58, B13, and B20, which carry a combined 41,428 passengers on an average weekday. Slightly more than two-thirds of that ridership is on the Q58.

Engineering and planning firm Parsons Brinckerhoff performed a conceptual engineering study for the busway in 2012. The project, included in the regional transportation funding plan approved last month by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council [PDF], would be funded by $11.64 million from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program and $2.91 million in matching funds from the MTA scheduled for Fiscal Year 2015. The total project cost is between $12.5 and $19 million; the MTA says the cost has not been finalized and that it has not yet made a decision on whether to proceed with the project.

New York has no bus routes where cars can’t intrude and slow down transit riders. A DOT plan to build a separated busway on 34th Street was scuttled in 2011, resulting in a more modest plan to improve the M34 SBS route. The MTA has proposed a busway along an elevated railroad track on Staten Island’s north shore, but the Ridgewood project looks like it could be up and running first. While it won’t set a precedent for carving a separated busway out of car lanes, it would help show how quickly, smoothly, and reliably buses can run when traffic doesn’t get in the way.

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No Charges for Curb-Jumping Driver Who Killed Michael Munoz in Queens

Photo: New York Post

Another curb-jumping driver has killed a NYC pedestrian, and as usual no charges have been filed by NYPD.

Michael Munoz, 42, was selling water on a Whitestone Expressway service road at 20th Avenue, in Queens, when he was struck at around 2:15 p.m. Monday. From WABC:

The 78-year-old driver was in a black Toyota Camry when investigators say for one reason or another, the driver lost control of the vehicle and slammed into Munoz and a steel post that holds a gate entering a corporate plaza.

The car hit with such force that it nearly pushed the post out of the asphalt.

Munoz died at New York Hospital in Queens. The driver and a passenger were treated for injuries.

Michael Munoz. Photo via NY Post

Neither police nor WABC reporter Joe Torres are apparently interested in why the driver “lost control,” but Torres does include this bit of victim-blaming: “Eyewitness News has learned that Munoz sold water not just from the sidewalk, but also from right on the service road.”

At least nine NYC pedestrians have died in 2013 after motorists drove onto sidewalks, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog, and countless victims have sustained life-altering injuries. Unless a driver is drunk or fleeing police, curb-jump crashes, no matter how severe, rarely result in criminal charges. City Council Member Mark Weprin is exploring the possibility of legislation that would make it a crime to drive on a New York City sidewalk.

Reports say Munoz suffered a serious head injury, and that a witness performed CPR until responders arrived. He lived in a nearby hotel with his father, and was selling bottles of water to motorists after he lost his job as a tennis coach, according to the Queens Courier and the Post.

The victim’s brother told WABC that their mother was killed by a driver years ago. “I’m angry but that’s not gonna do nothing, I’m more sad because I’m not going to see my brother again,” said Raphael Munoz. “We were just making plans to go see my mother at the graveyard.”

Less than four hours after the crash, the Post reported that, according to NYPD, “no criminality” is suspected.

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Make the Maspeth Crash Horror a Teachable Moment for New York City

The Maspeth horror wasn't the first sidewalk-vehicular assault on a Queens student this year.

The latest bombshell from the horrific traffic crash that brutally injured at least three Maspeth girls walking to their middle school last week exploded this morning, with a report in DNAinfo that city education officials ordered the school principal to respond to the incident by warning students not to use electronic devices while traveling to and from school.

Camillo Turriciano, the principal of I.S. 73 in Maspeth, issued that warning to parents just hours after a 40-year-old man drove his Honda SUV onto the sidewalk and into a group of girls walking to school shortly before 8 a.m. last Thursday. Video footage from a deli at the crash scene, on Grand Avenue near 71st Street in Queens, shows three girls walking unsuspectingly on the sidewalk far from the curb as the Honda driver hurtled toward them from behind. One girl was smashed by the car’s front right cattle guard — as depicted in a grotesque freeze-frame photo in today’s News — and hurled forward out of the frame of the video. None of the three appeared to be wearing earbuds or headphones, nor did any electronic device somehow help place them or other injured students in harm’s way.

Rather, the crash, which has hospitalized three schoolgirls with multiple fractures, appears to have been entirely attributable to the actions of the driver. Yet the principal’s letter, which DNAinfo has now reproduced in full, only mentioned students’ use of electronic devices. “Headphones, CD players, iPods or any other electronic devices used by children … can be a threat to their safety as they do not permit children to hear what is going on in their surrounding environment,” Turriciano wrote, in “asking [parents] to keep your child from using any listening devices when commuting so that they may be more in tune with their immediate surroundings.”

According to DNAinfo, the City Department of Education told Turriciano to focus on distracted walking after he “reached out to DOE asking for advice on how to address the school after the horrific crash.” That account, from the chief spokeswoman for the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, is buttressed with an email from DOE headquarters, DNAinfo reports:

In an email Sunday, a spokeswoman for the DOE said that “the initial information that the DOE received suggested that headphones could have been involved in the accident. The letter’s intention was to suggest safety measures that could be communicated to students.”

The mind reels at the idea that anyone learning that a driver had struck teenage girls on a city sidewalk would think to blame the girls in any way. That officials charged with educating and safeguarding the city’s one million public-school children would convey this warped perspective to traumatized students and apprehensive parents is shameful.

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Drivers Kill Three in Queens and the Bronx in Weekend of Vehicular Violence

Three pedestrians were killed by drivers, including two who fled the scene, in Queens and the Bronx over the weekend. A senior was seriously hurt in another hit-and-run crash, also in Queens.

Maria Dulce-Valencia was one of at least three pedestrians killed by motorists since Friday. Photo via Daily News

Raj Chohan, 59, had just exited her parked car when she was hit by an alleged drunk driver on 117th Street near 97th Avenue, in Richmond Hill, at around 7 p.m. Friday, the Daily News reports.

Vishwanand Subryan, 23, of Schenectady, was arrested not far from the scene. Subryan was charged with vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, DWI and leaving the scene, the News reported.

At 9:49 p.m. Friday, an unidentified female pedestrian was hit by a motorist as she crossed Queens Plaza North near 27th Street, near the entrance to the Queensboro Bridge, according to DNAinfo.

Upon investigation police found that she was hit by a 69-year-old man who stayed on the scene. The driver had been headed west when he struck the woman as she crossed from south to north, police said. He swerved up onto a curb and struck a pillar after hitting her, police said.

The victim was declared dead on arrival at Mount Sanai Hospital. NYPD told Streetsblog her name has not yet been released, pending family notification.The driver has not been charged or summonsed, and the investigation is ongoing, NYPD said.

Maria Dulce-Valencia, 27, was struck by the driver of a black sedan at Bruckner Boulevard and Evergreen Avenue in Soundview at approximately 5:00 a.m. Sunday, reports say. From the Post:

“Olivia [Chavez, Dulce-Valencia's girlfriend] saw it happen. Dulce was killed right in front of her,” said Valencia’s sister, Marnely, 28. “[Olivia] was standing eight feet from her when the car came and . . . just fainted.”

The driver fled the scene and remained at large as of Sunday afternoon, according to DNAinfo.

Also Sunday, a 79-year-old pedestrian was seriously injured by a hit-and-run driver in Corona. DNAinfo reports that the victim was walking east on Junction Boulevard near 50th Avenue at around 3 p.m. when she was struck. She was transported to Elmhurst Hospital and was in critical condition.

In another crash that could have been much worse, a 19-year-old killed himself and injured his passenger Sunday afternoon when he struck another vehicle and slammed his car into a pole on Linden Boulevard. And a motorcyclist and his passenger were killed on Saturday afternoon when they hit an SUV as the driver was making a U-turn at 20th Avenue and 24th Street in Ditmars.

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CIS Investigating Crash That Maimed Three Kids; So Far, Richard Brown Is Not

NYPD says the Collision Investigation Squad is investigating the Thursday curb-jump crash that injured five children in Maspeth, but District Attorney Richard Brown’s office says no subpoenas for cell phone records or EDR data have been issued, as police have determined there is “no criminality.” At least three of the victims remain in the hospital with serious injuries.

Richard Brown's office says the DA is not attempting to get driver Francis-Aung Lu's cell phone records, or EDR data from his vehicle. Photo: Daily News

At 7:49 a.m. yesterday, a driver identified by the Daily News and the Post as Francis-Aung Lu drove a Honda SUV onto the sidewalk at Grand Avenue and 71st Street, near Frank Sansivieri Intermediate School, striking five kids outside a corner deli. Lu’s vehicle had to be lifted off two girls.

Media reports said Lu was dropping off his child and attempting to park. Reports said police did not expect to file charges, but NYPD told us this morning that, while Lu has not been charged or summonsed, the case is still open, and is in the hands of CIS.

This contradicts information from Brown’s office. When Streetsblog asked, via email, if the DA would subpoena the driver’s phone records and vehicle EDR data, a spokesperson replied: “The police have investigated the matter and deemed there was no criminality involved. As such, we would not issue a subpoena.”

Informed that NYPD said the case is still open, the spokesperson wrote: ”The information I have is that the police have so far deemed it non criminal. If that should change we would, of course, review the matter.”

Whatever NYPD is doing to hold this reckless motorist accountable for injuring five schoolchildren, it’s pretty clear that so far Richard Brown is doing nothing.

Despite initial reports that downplayed the victims’ injuries, the Daily News says 13-year-old Angie Pena, the first victim Lu hit, is in critical condition. “The car smashed into her and hurt her really badly,” her father said.

Marina Abadir, 14, suffered head trauma, multiple spine fractures, and had surgery on both elbows. “They’re not really sure how many bones are fractured in her body,” said Sherif El Gawly, Abadir’s uncle.

Ashley Khan, 13, who like Abadir was pinned under the vehicle, has fractures to her pelvis and legs. Khan’s arterial blood flow was affected, the News says, and she has numbness in her leg.

Meanwhile, DNAinfo reports that I.S. 73 principal Camillo Turriciano sent out a letter yesterday advising parents not to allow kids to use electronic devices on their way to school:

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