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Posts from the "Carnage" Category

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Halloween: A Lot Less Scary If Drivers and Roads Were Safer

Halloween is fun because we get to be afraid of things that we know aren’t really scary. But for little trick or treaters in the United States, the danger posed by reckless drivers and unsafe roads is real.

A 2012 study by insurance company State Farm found that motorists kill more children on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Reported LoHud:

From 1990 to 2010, 115 pedestrians under the age of 18 were killed by motor vehicles on Oct. 31, an average of 5.5 fatalities a year during that period.  There are an average of 2.6 child pedestrian deaths other days of the year, the report found.

Above is a tweet from the Maryland State Highway Administration, which is loaning reflective vests for kids to wear tonight. The agency has a tip sheet for pedestrians and motorists, but holiday-themed PR campaigns are not a substitute for streets that are safe for walking 365 days a year.

Yet that doesn’t stop us from victim-blaming. ”Crowds of trick-or-treaters traveling the streets contribute to the increased risk,” wrote LoHud.

The State Farm study also noted that more than 70 percent of crashes that kill kids on Halloween “occurred away from an intersection or crosswalk,” implying that unsafe pedestrian behavior, rather than lack of pedestrian infrastructure, is the issue. State Farm advises parents and kids to “stick to neighborhoods with sidewalks.” While this advice is easy to follow in some major cities, complete streets are not the norm in most of the country.

Suggesting pedestrians wear reflective tape and asking motorists to not kill people isn’t getting the job done. To keep kids safe every day, we need streets designed to accommodate them.

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Two Pedestrians Killed in 24 Hours, Including Seventh MTA Victim of 2014

MTA bus drivers have killed two pedestrians since 2013 while making turns at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue, Wyckoff Avenue, and Palmetto Street, but bus route modifications were not included in a DOT safety proposal. Image: DOT

MTA bus drivers have killed two pedestrians since 2013 while making turns at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue, Wyckoff Avenue, and Palmetto Street, but bus route modifications were not included in a DOT safety proposal. Image: DOT

Update: The victim in the MTA crash was identified as Edgar Torres. WNYC reports that, according to a witness, Torres was in a crosswalk and crossing with the signal when he was hit.

Drivers have killed two New York City pedestrians since Wednesday. One of the victims was the fourth pedestrian to be fatally struck by an MTA bus driver in the last two months, and the crash occurred at the same intersection on the Brooklyn-Queens border where a city bus driver killed pedestrian Ella Bandes in 2013.

At around 5:10 a.m. today, a man believed to be in his 40s was crossing Palmetto Street when he was struck by the rear wheel of a Q58 as the bus driver turned right onto Palmetto from Wyckoff Avenue, according to NYPD and published reports. An NYPD spokesperson said the victim was pronounced dead on arrival at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center. As of this afternoon his identity was being withheld pending family notification.

On January 31, 2013, a B52 driver making a right turn from Myrtle Avenue onto Palmetto Street struck and killed 23-year-old Ella Bandes. Last April DOT announced plans to improve visibility and shorten crossing distances at the perilous six-legged intersection where Wyckoff, Myrtle, and Palmetto meet. Rush hour turn bans, for two hours a day, were included in the revamp, but MTA bus routes were not affected. Bandes’s mother Judy Kottick noted that the turn restrictions would not have prevented the crash that killed her daughter.

Anonymous police sources told the Daily News that the victim in today’s crash “appeared to be walking in the street, outside the crosswalk” at the time of the collision. The NYPD spokesperson we talked with had no such details, and said it was unclear who had the right of way. Police are still investigating the crash, the spokesperson said. The Post reported that “no criminality is suspected.”

MTA bus drivers have killed at least six pedestrians and one cyclist this year, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog, with four fatal crashes since the beginning of September. Caroline Samponaro, deputy director of Transportation Alternatives, released a statement earlier today:

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It’s Still Legal to Run Over a Child on a New York City Sidewalk [Updated]

An 8-year-old girl run over on the sidewalk outside her Bronx school Friday was one of at least two New York City pedestrians killed by motorists over the weekend. A woman struck while walking to work in Brooklyn Sunday morning was the second victim. No charges have been filed in either crash. NYPD and the Post blamed the Brooklyn victim for her own death.

Rylee Ramos. Photo via Daily News

A driver fatally struck 8-year-old Rylee Ramos and injured several others, including two more children, on the sidewalk outside a Bronx school. No charges were filed. Photo via Daily News

On Friday afternoon, Sonia Rodriguez backed onto a sidewalk adjacent to PS 307, striking 10 people, according to reports. At least two victims, including third-grader Rylee Ramos, were students who had just been dismissed from school. From the Daily News:

Rylee and her friend, Genesis Rodriguez, were only paces away from the school’s front door along Eames Place in Kingsbridge Heights when a blue Honda Accord hopped the curb and hit them about 2:45 p.m. The 55-year-old woman behind the wheel then tried to drive forward but all that did was “hit more people,” said Eliasser Lopez, 11. “It was something out of this world,” Eliasser said of the horror.

When the driver finally stopped, Rylee was injured beyond saving, though some tried to give her CPR. The car hit the girl so hard it crushed one of her lungs, family members said.

“[Sonia] Rodriguez hit a chain-link fence,” the Daily News reported, “a wrought-iron gate and a parked vehicle before pinning little Rylee to a pole, police said.” 

Ramos was pronounced dead at St. Barnabas Hospital. Genesis Rodriguez was hospitalized, as was a 4-year-old girl and four women.

Video posted by the Daily News, embedded after the jump, shows the car backing onto the sidewalk as Rodriguez appears to accelerate. Friday’s incident was reminiscent of a 2013 crash in which a motorist hit five children on a sidewalk near a school in Maspeth. Several children sustained severe, life-altering injuries as a result of the Queens crash, and one victim died days later from a reported asthma attack. The driver, identified as Francis Aung Lu, was not charged by NYPD or District Attorney Richard Brown.

Rodriguez was questioned and released by police after the Bronx crash, according to the Times. Streetsblog has asked DA Robert Johnson’s office if charges are being considered. Update: A source with Johnson’s office says the crash is under investigation.

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The Weekly Carnage

The Weekly Carnage is a Friday round-up of motor vehicle violence across the five boroughs. For more on the origins and purpose of this column, please read About the Weekly Carnage.

A dump truck driver fatally struck Winnifred Matthias, 77, at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues. NYPD said Matthias was walking "outside the crosswalk." No charges were filed. Photo: Ian Dutton

A dump truck driver fatally struck Winnifred Matthias, 77, at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues. NYPD said Matthias was walking “outside the crosswalk.” No charges were filed. Photo: Ian Dutton

Fatal Crashes (4 Killed This Week; 164 This Year*)

  • Glendale: Martin Srodin, 46, Killed by Semi Truck Driver in Crosswalk; No Charges (Streetsblog)
  • Prospect Heights: Winnifred Matthias, 77, Struck by Dump Truck Driver at Flatbush and Atlantic; No Charges (StreetsblogDNAWCBSBklyn PaperGothamist)
  • Sunset Park: Jose Chevere, 30, and Jalissa Otero, 24, Thrown from Motorcycle After Crashing Into Cement Wall on Gowanus Expressway (DNA)

Injuries, Arrests, and Property Damage

  • Astoria: Unlicensed Recidivist DWI Hit-and-Run Driver Strikes Elderly Pedestrian (Post, NewsNY1)
  • UWS: Driver Mounts Pedestrian Island Bollard at W. 97th Street and West End Avenue (Streetsblog)
  • St. Albans: Pedestrian Critical After Driver Slams Into Vehicle, Forcing It Onto Sidewalk (TL)**
  • Red Hook: Livery Cab Driver Runs Stop Sign, Sending B61 Onto Sidewalk (NewsWNBCWPIX)**
  • Sunnyside: Drunk Driver Crashes Into Parked Cars, Flips Vehicle Onto Sidewalk (Streetsblog)**
  • Flatlands: Driver Crashes Into Pole at Bedford and Avenue J; Five Injured (@NYScanner)
  • Marine Park: Cops Arrests Wrong-Way Dollar Van Driver on Kings Highway (Bklyn Daily)
  • Oakwood: Pedestrian Critical After Driver Hits Her; “No Criminality Suspected” (Advance)
  • Concord: Three Injured in Collision on SI Expressway That Overturned Vehicle (Advance)
  • Woodrow: Driver Arrested With BAC Almost Three Times Legal Limit (Advance)

* Based on latest available reports
** Incident in which a vehicle left the roadway

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New Data Reveal Which City Agency Is Running Over the Most Pedestrians

Over the past eight years, there have been more than 1,200 personal injury claims against the city involving pedestrians injured or killed by drivers of city vehicles, including 22 pedestrian deaths, according to a new report and interactive map from Comptroller Scott M. Stringer [PDF]. Over the same period, the city paid $88 million for pedestrian injury settlements and judgments. Claims have held steady in recent years, with NYPD consistently holding the top spot among city agencies.

The document is an update to Stringer’s “ClaimStat” report from July, which offered broad numbers on the city’s motor vehicle-related property and injury claims. Today’s report takes a deeper dive into claims related specifically to pedestrian deaths and injuries. It did not examine bicyclist injuries or deaths.

Pedestrians killed by city drivers within the past eight years include Ryo Oyamada, killed by an NYPD driver in Queensbridge last year, and Roxana Sorina Buta, killed by a hit-and-run DOT dump truck driver in 2012. Claims against the city for pedestrian deaths over the past eight years are concentrated in three departments, according to data provided to Streetsblog by Stringer’s office. There were eight claims filed against NYPD, five against FDNY, and four against DSNY. The departments of Education, Transportation, Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Administration for Children’s Services had one pedestrian death claim each. One claim was not assigned to a specific agency. 

City government has more than 28,000 vehicles and 85,000 authorized drivers, according to Stringer. During fiscal years 2007 through 2014, there were 1,213 pedestrian personal injury claims filed, including 22 pedestrian fatalities. The city paid out $88,134,915 during the same period for pedestrian injury cases.

Most claims are concentrated in denser neighborhoods, with Community District 5 in Midtown Manhattan leading the city with 50 claims.

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Martin Srodin, 46, Killed by Semi Truck Driver in Glendale Crosswalk

Martin Srodin, whose path is indicated in white, was killed by a trucker making a left turn in Glendale this morning. Semi truck drivers have killed at least eight NYC pedestrians since January 2012. Image: Google Maps

Martin Srodin, whose path is indicated in white, was killed by a trucker making a left turn in Glendale this morning. Semi truck drivers have killed at least eight NYC pedestrians since January 2012. Image: Google Maps

A truck driver killed a pedestrian in Glendale this morning. Police had filed no charges as of this afternoon. It is unclear if the truck was legally allowed to operate on city streets.

At approximately 6:07 a.m., 46-year-old Martin Srodin was crossing 80th Street at Cooper Avenue when the driver of a semi truck ran him over with a rear trailer tire, according to NYPD. Police said Srodin was walking west to east on Cooper as the truck driver, also eastbound on Cooper, was turning left onto 80th Street.

Srodin, who lived a few blocks away from the crash site, suffered trauma to the body, an NYPD spokesperson said. He was declared dead at Elmhurst Hospital.

NYPD did not have information on who had the right of way, and said the Collision Investigation Squad was working the crash. The truck driver, a 64-year-old man, was not immediately charged or summonsed.

There is a left turn lane from eastbound Cooper Avenue at 80th Street, according to a recent Google Maps image, and what appears to be a dedicated left turn signal. If the pedestrian had a walk signal, the driver should by law be charged under Section 19-190, which makes it a misdemeanor for drivers to strike pedestrians and cyclists who have the right of way.

Photos published by the Post show police administering a breath test to the driver at the scene. Photos also indicate the truck has New York plates, but it appears the truck does not have cab-mounted crossover mirrors, which give truck drivers a view of what’s directly in front of them. Though it’s unclear if the mirrors would have prevented this crash, they are required by law for trucks weighing over 26,000 pounds that are registered in New York State and operated in New York City.

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Alleged Drunk Driver Crashes, Flips Parked Car Onto Sunnyside Sidewalk

An allegedly drunk driver crashed into six parked cars last night, flipping one of them onto the sidewalk. Photo: Angus Grieve-Smith/Twitter

An allegedly drunk driver crashed into six parked cars last night in Sunnyside, flipping one of them onto the sidewalk. Photo: Angus Grieve-Smith/Twitter

Last night, shortly after midnight, a driver crashed into six parked cars in Woodside, Queens, flipping one of the vehicles onto the sidewalk. His vehicle thrust to the opposite sidewalk on 51st Street between Skillman and 39th Avenues, the driver then revved the engine in an unsuccessful attempt to flee before exiting the vehicle. Soon after, NYPD arrested him for drunk driving.

At 12:46 a.m., police charged 25-year-old Rhys Katwaru of Queens with driving under the influence of alcohol and refusal to submit to a blood alcohol test.

Streetsblog reader Angus Grieve-Smith, who lives nearby and witnessed the aftermath of the crash, posting photos online, said a passenger was also in the vehicle. When the two men got out of the car and tried to run, he said, they appeared too intoxicated to make much headway. Police soon arrived and began interviewing witnesses. According to an NYPD spokesperson, Katwaru had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and a strong stench of alcohol on his breath. He was taken to Forest Hills Hospital, where he refused a blood test.

Grieve-Smith said a police truck came later that night to flip the damaged car back onto its wheels and into its parking space. NYPD responded to 1,340 alcohol-related crashes in 2013, according to DMV statistics, representing 2.5 percent of the more than 52,600 crashes in NYC last year. Because there were no reported injuries, NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad is not examining the crash.

This crash occurred in the 108th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Captain Brian Hennessy, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 108th Precinct council meetings happen at 7 p.m. on the last Tuesday of the month at Sunnyside Community Services, on the first floor of 43-31 39th Street. Call 718-784-5420 for information.

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DA Cy Vance: $250 Fine for Motorist Accused of Deliberately Striking Cyclist

Manhattan DA Cy Vance dropped assault charges against Jose Henriquez, the hit-and-run driver accused of intentionally striking a cyclist with an SUV. Henriquez was allowed to plead to leaving the scene and was fined $250. Vance photo: Brad Aaron. Henriquez photo via Facebook

Manhattan DA Cy Vance dropped assault charges against Jose Henriquez, a hit-and-run driver accused of intentionally striking a cyclist with an SUV. Henriquez was allowed to plead to leaving the scene and was fined $250. Vance photo: Brad Aaron. Henriquez photo via Facebook

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance dropped assault charges against a hit-and-run driver accused of intentionally ramming a cyclist with an SUV, allowing the defendant to plead guilty to leaving the scene and pay a small fine, according to court documents and the victim’s attorney, Steve Vaccaro.

Vaccaro says the case was one of several handled by his firm, Vaccaro and White, in which Vance’s office declined or otherwise failed to pursue assault charges against motorists and pedestrians who attacked cyclists or purposefully hit them with motor vehicles.

According to Vaccaro and a witness affidavit [PDF], at around 5:00 p.m. on July 13, 2013, Michael (not his actual name) was riding his bike on Avenue B on the Lower East Side. Avenue B is a narrow two-way street with no bike lanes and parking on both sides. To avoid being doored, Michael was riding in the center of his lane. When a motorist approached Michael from behind, tailgating and honking, he responded by flipping the driver off.

Approaching the intersection of Avenue B and E. 13th Street, Michael slowed for a red light. According to the affidavit, the driver, still behind him, accelerated, striking the back of Michael’s bike and flipping him over the handlebars, causing him to hit his head on the ground. With Michael in the street bleeding from his face and head, the motorist swerved around him and attempted to drive off. A second motorist on the opposite side of the intersection tried to block the way, but the SUV driver went around the vehicle and left the scene.

Witnesses noted the SUV’s plate number, and the driver was identified by NYPD as 33-year-old Jose Henriquez, of Queens.

Michael suffered lacerations to his face. Despite his injuries and the circumstances of the crash, NYPD and prosecutors with Vance’s office initially charged Henriquez only with leaving the scene. “We went out and got the witnesses to establish that it was a deliberate strike, and to the DA’s credit, they added assault charges,” says Vaccaro. “Now, inexplicably and without justification, they have dropped them.”

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Woman Struck by Truck Driver on Flatbush at Atlantic “Likely to Die”

Photos: Ian Dutton

Photos: Ian Dutton

Update: The victim in this crash was identified as Winnifred Matthias, 77. She died from her injuries.

A truck driver seriously injured a pedestrian at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues this afternoon, near the location where a truck driver killed a senior last year. NYPD says the victim is not likely to survive.

The crash occurred around 12:36 p.m. and the victim was declared “likely to die,” according to NYPD and FDNY. DNAinfo reports that the victim was “an elderly woman”:

The woman was walking southbound down the double yellow lines on Flatbush Avenue when she was struck at the busy intersection of Atlantic Avenue near the Barclays Center just after 12:20 p.m., fire officials said.

The victim was rushed to Brooklyn Hospital in cardiac arrest. Authorities said her condition is dire.

Crosswalks at this intersection are extremely long and indirect. Sheer self-preservation might lead someone to walk outside the crosswalk in order to cross the street faster.

Photos of the scene taken by Streetsblog reader Ian Dutton show a dump truck sitting on Flatbush in front of Atlantic Terminal, a few feet past the crosswalk on the north side of the Atlantic intersection. The truck was cordoned by police tape and NYPD investigators were on the scene.

In April 2013, a semi truck driver fatally struck 83-year-old Irvin Gitlitz on Flatbush at Fourth Avenue, a few yards from the site of today’s crash.

This crash occurred in the 78th Precinct. We’ll post more information as it becomes available.

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NYPD: Drivers Injured 1,213 Pedestrians and Cyclists in August, and Killed 14

Image: NYPD

Image: NYPD

Twenty-two people died in New York City traffic in August, and 4,435 were injured, according to the monthly NYPD crash data report [PDF].

As of the end of August, 94 pedestrians and cyclists were reported killed by city motorists this year, and 9,593 injured, compared to 103 deaths and 10,336 injuries for the same period in 2013.

Citywide, at least 10 pedestrians and four cyclists were fatally struck by drivers: two pedestrians and one cyclist in Manhattan; one pedestrian in the Bronx; two pedestrians and one cyclist in Brooklyn; and five pedestrians and two cyclists in Queens. Among the victims were Karol Grzegorczyk, Jerrison Garcia, Shu Fan Huang, Menachem Galapo, and Silvia Gallo.

Motorists killed at least five pedestrians and three cyclists whose names were not immediately disclosed by NYPD, or whose deaths were not covered in the press. Most every month, there are pedestrian and cyclist deaths that go unreported other than the scant details provided weeks later in the NYPD dataset, which lists only the intersection closest to the crash and the victim’s mode of travel. These crashes are enumerated by WNYC on its “Mean Streets” page.

Motorists killed at least two seniors in August: Shu Fan Huang, 82, and an unnamed 79-year-old pedestrian in Queens.

Across the city, 722 pedestrians and 491 cyclists were reported hurt in collisions with motor vehicles. Per NYPD policy, few of these crashes were investigated by trained officers.

Of the fatal crashes reported by Streetsblog and other outlets, one motorist was known to have been charged for causing a death. Cab driver MD Hossain was charged under Section 19-190, the new law that makes it a misdemeanor for drivers to harm pedestrians and cyclists who have the right of way, for the death of Silvia Gallo. Nojeem Odunfa was cited for failure to exercise due care and charged with unlicensed driving following the crash that killed Jerrison Garcia. 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.

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