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The Randall’s Island Connector Is Finally Here

This spring, the Highbridge re-opened between the Bronx and Manhattan, the first car-free crossing linking the two boroughs. Now the second one in less than a year is open with the debut of the Randall’s Island Connector. The project has been in the pipeline for what seems like forever, and on Saturday it opened to the delight of many South Bronx residents.

The connector provides a direct and easy link between the developing South Bronx greenway network and Randall’s Island, with its athletic fields, picnic tables, miles of beautiful greenways, and stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. From Randall’s Island, you can bike or walk to the big island via the 103rd Street footbridge.

Advance apologies for some of the sound. When the winds are gusting over 30 mph and you are below an Amtrak train trestle, well, those aren’t ideal conditions. But kudos to the hundreds of people who showed up on a cold and blustery fall morning to celebrate the occasion.


Sidewalks Are No Sanctuary: Driver Jumps Curb, Kills 3 in the Bronx

Nyanna Aquil, left, and Kristian Leka, were two of three people killed in the Bronx by a curb-jumping driver on Halloween, along with Nyanna’s grandfather Louis Perez. Photos via Daily News

Nyanna Aquil, left, and Kristian Leka, were two of three people killed in the Bronx by a curb-jumping driver on Halloween, along with Nyanna’s grandfather Louis Perez. Photos via Daily News

A motorist killed three people Saturday, including a 10-year-old girl, and injured three others when he drove onto a Bronx sidewalk crowded with trick-or-treaters.

Police told the media Howard Unger, 52, of the Bronx, was driving west on Morris Park Avenue in a Dodge sedan at around 5 p.m. when he hit another vehicle from behind multiple times, hit a bus, and drove against oncoming traffic before going over the curb near Bogart Avenue.

Witnesses said the vehicle struck the victims on the sidewalk and went airborne. Photos from the scene show the car atop a fence, several feet off the ground, outside 936 Morris Park Avenue.

Unger killed Nyanna Aquil; her grandfather, 65-year-old Louis Perez; and Kristian Leka, 24, who according to the Times “was holding his younger sister’s hand to keep her safe.” Perez’s 3-year-old granddaughter, Leka’s sister, and Leka’s fiancé were injured.

From the Daily News:

“The guy in front of my feet, his body was torn in half. He was dead already,” said Kristina DeJesus, a hospital administrative assistant.

There was a young girl on the side of the car. She was like, ‘Can somebody help me?’ I was screaming at her, ‘Whatever you do, don’t move!’

“I had no time to cry … to react,” she added. “My body went into help mode.”

Unnamed investigators told the Times and the Post Unger may have had a seizure before the crash. The Daily News reported that Unger “did not have a history of seizures or other health issues,” according to his mother.

“We are looking at every possible aspect,” said Joe McCormack, vehicular crimes chief for District Attorney Robert Johnson.

Read more…


DA Robert Johnson: Manslaughter Charges for Cab Driver Who Killed Two

Bronx DA Robert Johnson says cab driver Emilio Garcia was off his epilepsy medication when he killed Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown. Image: News 12

Bronx DA Robert Johnson says cab driver Emilio Garcia was off his epilepsy medication when he killed Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown. Image: News 12

District Attorney Robert Johnson has filed felony charges against the green cab driver who killed two people on a Bronx sidewalk.

Johnson’s office told Gothamist Emilio Garcia was off his epilepsy medication when he hit 5-year-old Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown, 25, at the Grand Concourse and E. 170th Street on March 20.

Bronx DA Robert Johnson

Bronx DA Robert Johnson

Reports published after the crash said Clark also hit a 55-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman, who according to some outlets was Tierre’s mother, as they waited for a bus.

From Gothamist:

According to a spokeswoman for the Bronx DA’s office, Assistant DA Morgan Dolan argued in court that Garcia had been aware of his epilepsy, and had also been involved in a minor crash on December 31, 2014 — a few months before the crash that killed Brown and Clark. The earlier crash took place at East 149th Street and Brook Avenue in the South Bronx last New Years Eve, and resulted in minor injuries to another driver.

Garcia was charged with manslaughter and homicide, Johnson’s office told Streetsblog. Court records say he was arraigned on October 15 and held on $100,000 bond.

The Bronx crash resembles the case of garbage truck driver Auvryn Scarlett, who killed two tourists in Manhattan in 2008 after he went off his medication and had a seizure behind the wheel. Scarlett was convicted of murder, but last week an appeals court reduced the conviction to manslaughter. Prosecutors said Scarlett did not inform his employer or the DMV that he had epilepsy and that he went off his medication so he could drink.

Garcia’s trial is scheduled to begin in January.


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.”

Read more…


How to Fix NYC’s Streets? GOOD Magazine Turns to the Bronx

Fordham Road and Webster Avenue in the Bronx is one of New York City’s busiest intersections. The junction of the Bx12 and Bx41 Select Bus Service routes, it is crowded with pedestrians, including people going to and from the Fordham Metro-North station. As part of a series examining transportation issues across the nation, GOOD Magazine looked at how the intersection is being tweaked to make it better for bus riders, safer for pedestrians, and less chaotic for drivers.

The video, produced by Doug Patterson, includes interviews with Tri-State Transportation Campaign Executive Director Veronica Vanterpool, Columbia University planning professors Elliott Sclar and Floyd Lapp, and yours truly.

It gives a good overview of the rationale for Select Bus Service and the intersection’s pedestrian improvements, showing how a series of different projects can help transform streets over time.

Called “the worst intersection in New York” by New York Magazine in 2012, the intersection is incredibly busy: About 80,000 people walk through each day. In 2008, DOT identified it as the city’s most dangerous intersection for pedestrians. Over the years, it’s received everything from countdown clocks and retimed signals to pedestrian refuge islands. A “slip lane” on the intersection’s northeast corner, which allowed drivers to make high-speed turns, was replaced with additional pedestrian space. Next door, the city is rebuilding Fordham Plaza, a bus hub and outdoor market above the train station.

Over the years, projects have involved multiple city and state agencies, local elected officials, and community groups working, piece by piece, to reclaim this busy Bronx hub from the automobile.


Cab Driver Who Ran Over Kids on Bronx Sidewalk Blames Car

The livery cab driver who ran over four children and a woman on a Bronx sidewalk Wednesday blamed the car he was driving.

The driver, identified as Bialo Daillo, spoke with WNBC yesterday.

… Daillo … said he was heartbroken by the accident. The driver said he stepped on the break [sic] and the car wouldn’t stop. He said he feels fine physically, but is sad for those who were injured.

“I just care about the other people; I’m not bleeding. I’m sorry for the other people,” Daillo said. “Nobody wants that. Nobody wants this. I don’t know what happened.”

Daillo was driving a Toyota Camry. Video posted by WNBC shows him speed toward the intersection of Valentine Avenue and E. Kingsbridge Road, drive over a raised median, re-enter the roadway, jump the curb a second time and crash into a building where a group of children were waiting for a school bus. In the video the brake lights of the car don’t appear to activate until after Daillo is on the sidewalk where the victims were standing.

Three of the victims were a 33-year-old woman and her two kids. Two other children were also hurt. According to WNBC, an 8-year-old girl who was pinned under the car was in intensive care at Jacobi Hospital with a broken pelvis and broken legs.

Daillo, who according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission has held a for-hire vehicle license since 1998, works for Uber. Uber told Streetsblog he did not drive for the company yesterday. The TLC suspended Daillo from driving a cab pending the outcome of the NYPD investigation. Unless he is convicted of a crime or traffic offense, he will likely be reinstated by the TLC.

Immediately after the crash, anonymous police sources told the Post “no criminality was suspected.” No charges were filed yesterday. The NYPD public information office could not provide an update on the case this afternoon.

The crash occurred in the 52nd Precinct, and in the City Council district represented by Ritchie Torres.

Mayor de Blasio’s office sent a statement on the crash today, after I asked for one. It did not say the mayor planned to take any action relevant to the crash, such as directing DOT to inspect the site or reform rules that allow cab drivers who harm people to retain TLC licenses.

See prior Streetsblog coverage of yesterday’s crash here, here, and here.


TLC: Driver Who Hit Children on Bronx Sidewalk Works for Uber [Updated]

Warning: Graphic video

Updates below

The livery cab driver who sped onto a sidewalk and injured a woman and several children this morning in the Bronx was driving a vehicle affiliated with an Uber base, according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

TLC spokesperson Allan Fromberg said the cab operates from Uber’s Schmecken hub. Fromberg said the driver has held a TLC for-hire vehicle license since 1998.

The driver’s name has been shielded by the TLC and NYPD. The Post reported that he is 57 years old.

Video of the crash, published by the Post, shows a group of kids standing next to a building at 229 E. Kingsbridge Road when the car, a Toyota Camry, enters the frame at high speed, running them over.

The driver told police he “lost control” of the cab, according to the Post. NYPD used the same language to describe the crash to Streetsblog this morning.

Three of the victims were a 33-year-old woman and her two kids. Two other children were also hurt. Injuries to the children included broken legs, head trauma, and chest trauma, the Post reported. FDNY said two of the children were hospitalized in critical condition.

Police had filed no charges or issued no summonses as of this afternoon. Unless the driver is convicted of a crime or traffic violation he will in all likelihood remain in good standing with the TLC.

Drivers working for Uber or driving Uber-affiliated vehicles have killed at least two New York City pedestrians this year, including a 12-year-old boy who was hit in a school zone. A lawsuit stemming from one of the crashes claims the driver was distracted by Uber software. Speed was reportedly a factor in both collisions.

We have a message in with Uber for further details on the driver and the crash.

Read more…


Eyes on the Street: Randall’s Island Connector to Open in “Coming Weeks”

The Randall’s Island Connector is still fenced off, but not for long. EDC says an opening date will be scheduled “in the coming weeks.” Photo: Stephen Miller

The Randall’s Island Connector, a greenway link between the South Bronx and Randall’s Island, is almost complete. Bronxites are anticipating a ribbon-cutting any day now from the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which is building the project.

The new path crosses the Bronx Kill, a narrow waterway separating Randall’s Island from the Bronx. Without it, the only way to bike or walk from the Bronx to Randall’s Island is over narrow paths on the Triborough Bridge that include stairs, sharp curves, and a steep ascent to bridge level.

In contrast, the connector will provide a flat, direct crossing from E. 132nd Street in Port Morris to 330 acres of public parks and greenways on Randall’s Island.

Construction crews are currently finishing up handrail installations and minor fencing work, EDC says, before the city schedules a grand opening.

EDC wouldn’t give an exact opening date — but it should be soon. “As we put the finishing touches on the Randall’s Island Connector and schedule a grand opening event in the coming weeks, we are excited for the many opportunities that this neighborhood asset will provide for the community,” an agency spokesperson said.


NYPD: “No Criminality” as Cab Driver Runs Over Kids on Bronx Sidewalk

Several people, including a number of children, were seriously injured when a livery cab driver drove onto a sidewalk in the Bronx this morning.

At around 7:45 the driver, a man whose name was not released, “lost control” of a Toyota Camry at 229 E. Kingsbridge Road, according to NYPD. A police spokesperson said the driver hit one woman and four children on the sidewalk. Four victims were hospitalized in stable condition and one in serious condition, NYPD said.

FDNY said there were six victims: two in critical condition, three in stable condition, and one with a minor injury. The two critically injured victims were children, according to a fire department spokesperson.

NYPD told Streetsblog the Collision Investigation Squad, which works only the most serious traffic crashes, was dispatched to the scene.

WNBC reported that the driver was taken into custody this morning, but NYPD could not confirm. Unnamed police sources told the Post “no criminality was suspected.”

From the Post:

A passer-by comforted a 5-year-old boy as emergency workers arrived at Valentine Avenue and East Kingsbridge Road in Fordham Manor after the 7:45 a.m. accident

“I held his hand and he said, ‘I want to see my sister, I want to see my sister!’ He was so scared. I said, ‘Look at me! Look at my eyes! You’re going to be OK,’” said Nilda Guerrero, 57.

“He was crying and he wanted to hold his mother’s hand. I pretended I was his mother. And I held his hand. And I said, ‘Miguel, you’re going to be fine,’” she added.

“I heard a noise — a loud boom and a crash. There were people screaming. I ran over and there was a mother and daughter under the car,” said Migdalia Morales, 42, a parks worker.

“There was a little girl that had her legs stuck under the car next to the building,” she said

Read more…


Bronx DA Johnson Files Manslaughter Charge for Cyclist’s Hit-and-Run Death

Bronx DA Robert Johnson filed manslaughter and homicide charges against the driver accused of fatally striking Gabriela Aguilar-Vallinos and leaving the scene.

Bronx DA Robert Johnson filed manslaughter and homicide charges against the driver accused of fatally striking Gabriela Aguilar-Vallinos and leaving the scene.

Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson filed homicide charges against the man who allegedly killed cyclist Gabriela Aguilar-Vallinos in a hit-and-run crash earlier this month.

Aguilar-Vallinos, 27, was on her way home from work at around 11:45 on the night of September 11 when a driver hit her with a Hyundai sedan on the City Island Bridge. The motorist did not stop. Aguilar-Vallinos suffered head trauma and died at Jacobi Hospital.

NYPD released video of the vehicle involved in the crash. The Daily News reported that 25-year-old Michael Moreno turned himself in to Johnson’s office on Tuesday.

Johnson charged Moreno with second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and felony leaving the scene, according to the DA’s office. Moreno was arraigned last night and held on $500,000 bond. The case will next go to the grand jury for indictment.

The top charge against Moreno, manslaughter, is a class C felony with penalties ranging from probation to 15 years in prison.

It is rare for a New York City district attorney to bring a homicide charge against a driver who is not also accused of driving drunk. Because of a loophole in state law, drivers who may be impaired can game the system by leaving the scene of a crash, since the penalty for hit-and-run is less severe than the penalty for causing death or injury while intoxicated.

Drivers who leave the scene of a crash in NYC aren’t always charged criminally, even when they kill someone. When prosecutors decide to pursue a case, they normally charge for leaving the scene but not for the act of taking a life.

Moreno’s next court appearance is scheduled for Friday. We will follow this case at it develops.