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Rukhsana Khan, 41, Third Pedestrian Killed by MTA Bus Driver in November

MTA bus drivers killed three people walking in November. The most recent victim was Rukhsana Khan, a 41-year-old mother of six. Image: News 12

MTA bus drivers killed three people walking in November. The most recent victim was Rukhsana Khan, a 41-year-old mother of six, struck on Thanksgiving eve. Image: News 12

New York City motorists killed three people walking over the holiday break.

At around 6 p.m. last Wednesday, November 25, an MTA express bus driver hit 41-year-old Rukhsana Khan on Ocean Avenue between Avenue J and Avenue K.

Rukhsana Khan. Photo via Daily News

Rukhsana Khan. Photo via Daily News

From the Daily News:

“The lady was in the middle of the street crossing,” said William Bizaldi, 64, who later discovered he had lived in the same building with the victim. “I heard like a boom and she looked like a plastic doll when she got hit.”

Albert Britton, 45, was onboard the bus at the time, and said the impact sounded like the bus “hitting a pothole.”

Khan, who had six children, was pronounced dead at New York Community Hospital.

Ocean Avenue is a wide, flat street, with four lanes for motor vehicle through-traffic at the location where Khan was struck. Video of the crash published by News 12 shows the bus driver traveling at a high rate of speed at the moment of impact. Video and photos taken at the scene showed that the bus was damaged on the front driver’s side.

In a second report, the Daily News spoke with people who said the bus driver was speeding, and that reckless driving is common on Ocean Avenue.

Neighbors implored the city to crack down on fast drivers. Witnesses said the bus was speeding, and urged officials to install speed bumps near the site.

“This area right here, they come speeding, 60 or 65,” said Wanda Bizaldi, 52, a neighbor. “Whether she was right or wrong, that’s too fast. It’s a shame that she died right here in front of the building.”

Drivers have injured dozens of people on Ocean Avenue this year, according to DOT crash data. The 70th Precinct, where the crash occurred, issues an average of between one and two speeding tickets a day.

NYPD filed no charges against the bus driver who killed Rukhsana Khan. MTA bus drivers have killed five pedestrians and one cyclist in 2015, including three pedestrians in November, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog.

Read more…


DOT: Drivers Injured 1,536 Pedestrians and Cyclists in October, and Killed 19

Nyanna Aquil, Sheniqua Silva, Louis Perez, Kristian Leka, and Shannon Lies

Nyanna Aquil, Sheniqua Silva, Louis Perez, Kristian Leka, and Shannon Lies

Twenty-five people died in New York City traffic in October, and 5,009 were injured, according to DOT’s Vision Zero View crash data map.

As of the end of October, DOT reported 113 pedestrians and cyclists killed by city motorists this year, and 12,042 injured, compared to 132 deaths and 12,267 injuries for the same period in 2014.

Citywide, at least 18 pedestrians and one cyclist were fatally struck by drivers last month. Among the victims were Mariano Contreras, Steven Turetsky, Vispi Mukajam, Shannon Lies, Meena Mahabir, Sheniqua Silva, Latiesha Ramsey, Kyler Hailey, Anna Rodriguez, Guy Ryff, Joseph Ciresi, Janet Peters, Nyanna Aquil, Louis Perez, Kristian Leka, and unidentified male and unidentified female pedestrians in Brooklyn.

Motorists killed at least one child and three seniors in October: Nyanna Aquil, 10; Joseph Ciresi, 82; and the unnamed female pedestrian in Brooklyn, who was 92.

Across the city, 1,106 pedestrians and 430 cyclists were reported hurt in collisions with motor vehicles. Per NYPD policy, few of these crashes were investigated by trained officers.

Of 15 fatal crashes on surface streets reported by Streetsblog and other outlets in October, one motorist was known to have been charged for causing a death.

Mariano Contreras was killed by a hit-and-run driver who was not immediately caught or identified. Meena Mahabir was killed, her 2-year-old niece was critically injured, and the child’s mother was hospitalized when a motorist ran a red light, collided with another vehicle, and hit the victims on a Richmond Hill sidewalk. The driver was not charged or ticketed. NYPD said “no criminality was suspected” after Sheniqua Silva was killed and two others were hurt when drivers collided and a Coca-Cola truck hit them on the sidewalk as they waited for a bus in Port Morris. A motorist hit Nyanna Aquil, Louis Perez, and Kristian Leka on a Bronx sidewalk while the victims were out trick-or-treating on Halloween. The driver was not charged. Latiesha Ramsey was pushing a laundry cart across a street in Bedford-Stuyvesant when the light changed and a truck driver hit the gas and ran her over. NYPD blamed Ramsey for the crash. Cyclist Anna Rodriguez was hit by a truck driver who was charged with manslaughter after he tested positive for cocaine. Vispi Mukajam and the unidentified 92-year-old woman were killed in Queens and Brooklyn, respectively, by drivers making turns. No charges were filed for either crash.

Historically, nearly half of motorists who kill a New York City pedestrian or cyclist do not receive so much as a citation for careless driving.

In three cases, immediately after a pedestrian was killed, police exonerated the driver by telling the press the victim was not in a crosswalk or was crossing against the signal.

Six motor vehicle occupants died in the city in October, according to DOT, and 3,473 were injured.


Tonight: DOT Workshop on Atlantic Ave Segment Where Driver Killed Senior

Atlantic Avenue at Grant Avenue, when a driver killed 70-year-old Helen Marszalek. The nearest crosswalks are a block in either direction. Image: Google Maps

Atlantic Avenue at Grant Avenue, where a driver killed 70-year-old Helen Marszalek yesterday. There are no crosswalks at the intersection. Image: Google Maps

Yesterday a motorist killed a senior who was trying to cross Atlantic Avenue at an intersection that has no crosswalks. Tonight DOT will host a public workshop to solicit input on a safer design for Atlantic between Georgia Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard, which includes the site of Monday’s collision.

Helen Marszalek, 70, was walking across Atlantic at Grant Avenue at around 1:30 in the afternoon when she was struck by the driver of a BMW sedan in the westbound lanes. Marszalek, who lived nearby, died at Brookdale University Hospital, DNAinfo reported.

Helen Marszalek. Photo via Daily News

Helen Marszalek. Photo via Daily News

The crash occurred on a segment of Atlantic that the de Blasio administration has singled out for improvements as part of the Vision Zero Great Streets program, which concentrates on four of the city’s most dangerous streets for walking: Atlantic Avenue, Queens Boulevard, Grand Concourse, and Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue.

Atlantic Avenue at the site of the crash is six lanes with a center median. Last summer DOT unveiled plans to redesign medians and add vehicle turn bays between Pennsylvania Avenue and Conduit Avenue, to the west, where the crash rate is higher than on 90 percent of Brooklyn streets. Phase two of the project would focus on Atlantic between Conduit Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard, encompassing the intersection where Marszalek was killed.

Based on phase one plans [PDF], DOT does not intend to reduce the number of car lanes or add bike lanes on Atlantic Avenue, though such design elements are known to reduce injuries and deaths. For phase one, DOT has proposed raising the median, turning it into a barrier that will discourage people from crossing where there are no crosswalks.

Video from the scene of yesterday’s crash showed the BMW with a dented hood and extensive damage to the windshield, indicating a high-speed collision. “I heard the boom,” said witness John Montes, the Post reported. “I ran over, and the woman … wasn’t moving.”

Read more…


Traffic Violence Claims Another Life as NYPD Announces Enforcement Blitz

The pedestrian death toll stands at 13 since October 31. NYPD said a man hit by a driver in Queens last weekend died from his injuries Wednesday, according to Gothamist. Meanwhile, police announced a period of “focused enforcement” of the most dangerous driving violations.

Council Member Peter Koo is encouraging NYPD to waste enforcement resources that could be used to save lives.

Council Member Peter Koo is encouraging NYPD to waste enforcement resources that could be used to save lives.

On Sunday at around 5 p.m., a 70-year-old man driving a Honda minivan hit a 59-year-old man as the victim walked on College Point Boulevard at 41st Avenue in Flushing, Gothamist reported. No charges were filed.

The crash occurred in the 109th Precinct, where on Monday elected officials and the precinct’s commanding officer declared a crackdown on walking. Motorists have killed three pedestrians in the last five weeks in the 109th Precinct, which Gothamist says has issued fewer tickets for speeding and failure to yield in 2015 compared to last year.

NYC DOT’s 2010 pedestrian safety study analyzed records of 7,000 pedestrian-involved crashes and found that motorist behavior was the main factor in 78.5 percent of serious pedestrian injuries and fatalities. But after Monday’s press conference, when Transportation Alternatives called on police and officials to concentrate on reckless driving and outdated street design, Council Member Peter Koo insisted that New Yorkers need to be told how to walk.

“We want to educate the public,” said Koo, who according to DNAinfo initiated the meeting with the 109th Precinct, “they have to use the crosswalks to walk and they have to follow the streetlights.”

Today NYPD announced the department has ramped up citywide enforcement of motorist violations including speeding, failure to yield, distracted driving, and double-parking. Through November 22, “the NYPD will increase officer hours and overtime dedicated to traffic enforcement,” according to a press release.

TA released a statement on the enforcement blitz:

Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD are sending an important message on Vision Zero traffic enforcement by dedicating more officers to the effort to deter the most dangerous violations: speeding, failure to yield and distracted driving. We are particularly encouraged to see that this initiative includes multiple NYPD bureaus and precincts. If traffic enforcement is to be effective and equitable, it must be data-driven and consistent across the five boroughs. We call on the NYPD to continue to target the most deadly violations after this focused enforcement period ends on November 22nd.


DA Ken Thompson: Felony Plea for Driver Who Killed Roshard Charles, 5

A driver who fatally struck a little boy in Crown Heights and left the scene has pled guilty to felony hit-and-run.

On March 16, 2014, 5-year-old Roshard Charles was walking with his mother, little brother, and a friend on Empire Boulevard between Nostrand Avenue and Rogers Avenue when a driver aiming for a parking spot backed into him with a minivan. According to reports, as Roshard’s mother screamed and pounded on the van, Elizabeth Mayard drove away. Reports said Mayard ran red lights as she fled westbound on Empire, and was convinced by a witness who followed her to return to the scene.

Roshard Charles

Roshard Charles

From the Daily News:

[Witness Thomas] Barry and two others lifted the boy and put him on the hood of a parked car to try to keep him awake until help arrived, he said.

“Three or four times it was like he was going into the fetal position, and then he wasn’t moving anymore,” said a witness who lifted the boy. “He didn’t move again. He just didn’t move.”

The Daily News reported that Roshard “darted away from his mom,” a claim that did not match accounts from other media outlets, NYPD, or Roshard’s mother.

Rochelle Charles spoke with DNAinfo :

“I was with my baby. He was right here with me. She double parked. She wasn’t moving. She was just there. We were already walking, about to go on the sidewalk. And that’s when she started reversing really fast…I said, ‘Stop!’ I banged on [the van]. She reversed back. She heard me. She looked back. She tried to get him out of the wheel. And then she just drove off…How could you leave like that? I kept telling her to stop.”

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson charged Mayard with leaving the scene of a crash that resulted in death, a D felony, as well as misdemeanor reckless endangerment, reckless driving, careless driving, and unsafe backing of a vehicle. According to court records, last week Mayard pled guilty to leaving the scene, the top charge against her. Thompson did not charge Mayard for taking the life of Roshard Charles.

Class D felonies carry penalties ranging from probation to seven years in prison. Mayard is scheduled to be sentenced in January.

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Drivers Killed 3 Seniors This Weekend, Bringing 10-Day Death Toll to 11

The wave of traffic violence that began with the deaths of three people on Halloween continued over the weekend, when motorists killed three pedestrians in Manhattan and Queens. Drivers have killed at least 11 people walking in the city in the last 10 days.

The yellow cab driver who killed 88-year-old Luisa Rosario was charged under the Right of Way Law. Photo via Daily News

The yellow cab driver who killed 88-year-old Luisa Rosario was charged under the Right of Way Law. Photo via Daily News

The three most recent victims were all seniors. At approximately 12:45 a.m. Sunday, Salifu Abubkar drove a yellow cab into 88-year-old Luisa Rosario as she crossed W. 109th Street at Columbus Avenue in the crosswalk with the walk signal, according to published accounts. Abubkar was turning right from Columbus onto 109th, Gothamist reported, as Rosario was crossing 109th from north to south. Rosario died at St. Luke’s hospital.

NYPD charged Abubkar with violating the Right of Way Law, according to the Times. Abubkar’s license to drive a cab was suspended.

The Daily News reported that Abubkar, who is 73, had been at the wheel for 16 hours when the crash occurred, four hours longer than cab drivers are supposed to work during a single shift. As Streetsblog has reported, New York City cabbies are permitted to log more hours per shift than long-haul truckers who drive on interstate highways.

Council Member Mark Levine, who represents the district where Rosario was killed, issued the following statement:

The tragic death of Luisa Rosario is a painful reminder that the grueling conditions many taxi drivers work under aren’t just bad for cabbies, they put all of us at risk. Mr. Abubkar reportedly drove at least 16 hours every Saturday — proof that the City is not enforcing the legal limit of 12-hour shifts. We need to put mechanisms in place to make sure no other New Yorkers are endangered by fatigued taxi drivers exceeding the legal limit for hours behind the wheel.

Rather than raise standards and improve working conditions for cab drivers under Vision Zero, the Taxi and Limousine Commission has made it easier to obtain a TLC license, as cab medallion owners complain about competition from app-based services Uber and Lyft. Under current rules prospective cab drivers are not required to pass a New York City road test. The TLC has taken no action to meaningfully address factors that make driving a cab a stressful, low-paying job.

Read more…


Trucker Who Killed Woman Admits Negligence, NYPD Still Blames Victim


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:

Read more…

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Every Traffic Fatality in the U.S. — Mapped

This map, developed by NYC-based data scientist Max Galka, shows every traffic fatality in the U.S. between 2004 and 2013. Click to access the interactive version.

This map, developed by NYC-based data scientist Max Galka, shows every traffic fatality in the U.S. between 2004 and 2013. Click to access the interactive version.

What is the most dangerous street in your region? Which one most needs improvements to protect cyclists? Where do drunk drivers do the most damage? Thanks to a new tool from New York City data scientist Max Galka, you can get a pretty good sense with a few clicks.

Galka recently completed a map of every traffic fatality in the U.S. between 2004 and 2013, using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

Zoomed out, it looks like a map of population density and highways in the U.S. The real insights come when you zoom in to a local level.

Streets in Atlanta with a high concentration of pedestrian fatalities. Image via

Streets in Atlanta with a high concentration of pedestrian fatalities. Image via Metrocosm

The map is coded to convey information about victims and contributing factors like speeding or drunk driving.

While a handful of cities make more detailed traffic crash information available publicly online, in most places, Galka’s map can provide fresh insight into the scale of traffic violence on our streets. You can locate your own neighborhood by entering your address in the search bar.

Galka told Streetsblog he tried to stay away from interjecting his views too strongly into his analysis, but his work on the map revealed a couple of things.

“What struck me most was the number of accidents that were likely preventable,” he said. “Fifty-eight percent were caused by either alcohol, speeding, or driver distractions. In particular, speeding appears to be far more dangerous than I realized.”


NYPD: “No Criminality” When MTA Bus Driver Kills Senior and Leaves Scene

An MTA bus driver killed a senior at a Brooklyn intersection. The red arrow represents the approximate path of the bus, and the white arrow the approximate path of the victim, according to NYPD’s account of the crash. Image: Google Maps

An MTA bus driver killed a senior at a Brooklyn intersection. The red arrow represents the approximate path of the bus, and the white arrow the approximate path of the victim, according to NYPD’s account of the crash. Image: Google Maps

Update: Bus driver Paul Roper was charged with felony leaving the scene, failure to yield, and careless driving, according to NY1.

An MTA bus driver struck and killed a senior with a walker at a Brooklyn intersection and left the scene this morning. Though it was a hit-and-run crash and it appears likely the victim had the right of way, NYPD declared “no criminality” before investigators even located the driver.

According to reports and photos of the scene, the 70-year-old victim was crossing Fulton Street at Sackman Street south to north in or near an unmarked crosswalk, and the driver, traveling south on Sackman, turned east — left — onto Fulton, striking her with the rear wheels of the bus.

“(The bus driver) never stopped, just was just going,” witness Ramon Garcia told the Daily News. “He never realized what had happened. It’s a big machine. I guess you don’t feel something like that.”

The victim died at the scene. Her name has yet to be released. The woman lived in a nearby shelter and went by the nickname “Freckles,” according to DNAinfo. Update: The Times identified the victim as Carol Bell.

DNAinfo reported that police found the bus, which was out of service, at the East New York Bus Depot a short distance away. The Post said the driver was being questioned. Witnesses told DNAinfo the bus driver “stopped briefly and then continued driving.” To secure a conviction for leaving the scene, New York State law requires prosecutors to prove a driver knew or had reason to know a collision occurred.

There are no traffic signals at Fulton and Sackman. According to attorney Steve Vaccaro, based on information released by NYPD the bus driver would have had to stop for a stop sign and yield to any traffic in the intersection that was already there. If the victim was in an unmarked crosswalk at the intersection, she would have had “an absolute right of way over any motor vehicle,” Vaccaro told Streetsblog.

If the woman was determined to be outside the unmarked crosswalk, mid-block crossings of Fulton are permitted on the block where the crash occurred, since the intersection with Sackman is not signalized, Vaccaro said.

Though the driver left the scene and may have violated the Right of Way Law, NYPD told DNAinfo police “did not immediately suspect criminality.” The Right of Way Law, also known as Section 19-190, makes it a misdemeanor for a driver to injure or kill someone who is walking or biking with the right of way. NYPD has applied the law only a few dozen times since it took effect in 2014.

This morning’s crash is the first reported incident this year in which an MTA bus driver killed a pedestrian with the right of way. There were eight such fatalities in 2014. The crash comes after City Hall reached a settlement in a suit filed by the Transport Workers Union, which spent much of the year trying to gut the Right of Way Law. The settlement amounted to a clarification of the law, but the TWU trumpeted it as proof that bus drivers were wrongly arrested for killing people who were following traffic rules.

Today’s crash occurred in the 73rd Precinct, in Community Board District 16, and in the City Council district represented by Rafael Espinal.

Read more…


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…