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Turning Driver Kills 89-Year-Old on Upper East Side, NYPD Blames Victim

A driver makes a left turn into the crosswalk at E. 61st Street and First Avenue, where John Torson was fatally struck Thursday. NYPD said the 89-year-old victim was "outside the crosswalk" when he was hit. Image: Google Maps

A driver makes a left turn into the crosswalk at E. 61st Street and First Avenue, where John Torson was fatally struck Thursday. NYPD said the 89-year-old victim was “outside the crosswalk” when he was hit. Image: Google Maps

For the second time in a week, a turning driver has killed a senior on the Upper East Side. Police blamed the victim in the press.

John Torson, 89, was crossing E. 61st Street north to south at around 7:19 p.m. Thursday when a 56-year-old woman drove a Lexus SUV into him while turning left from First Avenue, according to NYPD and published reports. Torson, who lived on E. 63rd Street, was declared dead on arrival at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, police said.

The crash occurred in the 19th Precinct, where a cab driver fatally struck 76-year-old tourist Amelia Sterental on May 9. As of March, 19th Precinct officers had issued just 10 speeding tickets in 2015.

From the Post:

The driver, who remained at the scene, said Thorson “just hobbled into the middle of the street.”

“I did my best to put on the brake, but he ran into my car,” said the shaken driver, who did not want to give her name. “I feel bad for him. I hope he’s okay. But I’m so worried.”

An NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog that, according to the Collision Investigation Squad, Torson was “outside of the marked crosswalk” when he was struck. Anonymous police sources told the Post Torson “was not in the crosswalk,” and the Daily News reported that, according to unnamed sources, the victim was “a few car-lengths west of the crosswalk.” A photo of the scene published by the Post shows the SUV sitting on 61st Street, the rear tires a few feet from the crosswalk, indicating Torson probably would not have been far from the corner.

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Will NYPD Charge Driver Who Rammed Woman on Sidewalk and Left Scene?

Beekman Street, with Spruce Street School and New York Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital at right, where a driver hit Heather Hensl on the sidewalk and left the scene. Parents say motorists routinely drive on the sidewalk in front of the school to get around traffic. Image: Google Maps

Beekman Street, with Spruce Street School and New York Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital at right, where a driver hit Heather Hensl on the sidewalk and left the scene. Parents say motorists routinely drive on the sidewalk in front of the school to get around traffic. Image: Google Maps

A motorist who deliberately drove down a Manhattan sidewalk, rammed a pedestrian, left the scene and reportedly hit a second person in Brooklyn might not be charged with a crime, according to one of the victims.

Heather Hensl was walking on Beekman Street near William Street on April 13 when a motorist struck her, knocking her to the ground, lacerating her head and fracturing her leg. The driver did not stop. In an email to Downtown Express, Hensl, a 37-year-old physician assistant, said she is on crutches and may require knee surgery, in addition to physical therapy.

The crash occurred near Spruce Street School. Parents of kids who attend the school say it’s not unusual for motorists to use the sidewalk to drive around traffic.

From Downtown Express:

Video viewed by Downtown Express shows the driver backing up several times in order to be able to make the turn onto the sidewalk and head west past a traffic jam.

Captain Mark Iocco, the First Precinct’s commanding officer, said the same car was involved in an accident in Brooklyn about 30 minutes after that incident. The car was pulling into a parking spot and hit an elderly lady, he said at last week’s meeting of the First Precinct Community Council. The elderly woman couldn’t identify her, and could only confirm that the driver was a female, he said.

The suspect has filed an insurance claim. The police are working with the insurance company and they are “investigating her up and down,” said Iocco.

The driver barely missed striking other people on Beekman, including children, who were able to get out of her path, DNAinfo reported. “[The driver] drove on the sidewalk as if it was a lane,” one witness said. “So fast that I turned my head and I didn’t see the car.”

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The Oregonian: Run a Red Light and Kill 3 Kids? “Just a Tragic Accident”

In February, a pickup truck driver in suburban Eugene, Oregon, ran through a red light at 40 miles an hour, killing three children — 4-year-old Tyler Hudson, 5-year-old McKenzie Hudson, and 8-year-old John Day — and critically injuring their mother. The family was walking with the right-of-way in a crosswalk, returning from getting ice cream.

The response to this horrible loss of life? Law enforcement and the state’s largest paper, The Oregonian, have chalked it up as a “tragic accident.”

The Lane County district attorney recently announced there won’t be any criminal charges for the driver, Larry LaThorpe, 68, formerly a commercial truck driver. LaThorpe’s defense is simple enough: He thought the light was green. And that, it seems, is all you have to say to avoid prosecution for killing three children with your motor vehicle.

LaThorpe got a ticket for running the red and has since had his license stripped for undisclosed and apparently unrelated medical reasons. That’s it.

The Oregonian editorial board was inclined to weigh in last week, defending the prosecutor’s decision in a piece headlined “Sometimes an accident is just a tragic accident.” LaThorpe, they point out, wasn’t drunk, or on his phone, or breaking any other law, besides, you know, running a red light at 40 mph.

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No Right-of-Way Charge for Cab Driver Who Killed Senior in UES Crosswalk

An unidentified cab driver fatally struck 76-year-old Amelia Sterental in an Upper East Side crosswalk. NYPD and Cy Vance filed no charges. Image: WABC

An unidentified cab driver fatally struck 76-year-old Amelia Sterental in an Upper East Side crosswalk. NYPD and Manhattan DA Cy Vance filed no charges. Image: WABC

A yellow cab driver fatally struck a senior in an Upper East Side crosswalk Saturday, and no charges were filed by NYPD or Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance. The crash occurred in the 19th Precinct, where as of March officers had issued just 10 speeding tickets in 2015.

At around 2:43 p.m. Amelia Sterental, 76, was walking north across 60th Street when the cab driver hit her with a Ford SUV while turning left from Madison Avenue, according to NYPD and published reports.

From the Daily News:

The Miami woman was thrown over the taxi and ended up crumpled on the road in front of high-end clothing stores like Barneys and Calvin Klein, witnesses said.

“It smashed her and she went airborne and went over the back (of the car),” said Frank Semmel, 39, a retired New Jersey policeman.

“A street vendor who didn’t give his name said the cabby had ‘made a fast turn’ before he struck the unidentified woman in the crosswalk,” the Post reported.

“I heard screeching of the brakes,” another witness told the Post. “People started screaming. I turned around and there was a woman on the floor.”

Sterental, who lived in Bal Harbour, Florida, died at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NYPD told Streetsblog.

Police and press accounts of the crash suggest Sterental was crossing with the right of way and the cab driver was traveling at an unsafe speed. But as of this morning, NYPD and Vance had filed no charges against the driver, whose name was withheld by police.

Cab drivers turn onto 60th Street from left turn lane on Madison Avenue. Image: Google Maps

Cab drivers turn onto 60th Street from left turn lane on Madison Avenue. Image: Google Maps

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Driver “Flying” Through Harlem School Zone Kills Child — Tabs Blame Victim

The car involved in the collision that killed Ervi Secundino had extensive damage to the hood and grille, indicating the crash likely occurred at a high rate of speed. Witnesses said the driver was “flying” through a school zone at dismissal time. Image: WNBC

The car involved in the collision that killed Ervi Secundino had extensive damage to the hood and grille, indicating the crash likely occurred at a high rate of speed. Witnesses said the driver was “flying” through a school zone at dismissal time. Image: WNBC

A driver operating a TLC-licensed vehicle killed a 12-year-old boy outside a school in Harlem Wednesday.

The crash occurred in the 32nd Precinct, where officers issue an average of between one and two speeding tickets per day.

Ervi Secundino was hit at approximately 3:15 p.m. in front of Frederick Douglass Academy, where he was in the sixth grade, the Times reported. He was crossing Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard at 150th Street, west to east, when the southbound driver struck him and dragged him for one block, according to NYPD and media reports.

Ervi lived on 145th Street, near the school. He was pronounced dead at Harlem Hospital. Ervi was at least the second child age 14 and under killed by a New York City motorist this year, and the tenth since January 2014, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog.

The driver was a 23-year-old man who lives in Brooklyn, a police spokesperson said. His name was not released by NYPD or the Taxi and Limousine Commission. NYPD had no information on the driver’s speed or who had the right of way, and police had filed no charges as of late this morning. The NYPD spokesperson said the investigation was ongoing.

Images from the scene show the car, a Toyota livery cab, with extensive damage to the hood and grille, indicating the driver was likely exceeding the 25 miles per hour speed limit. While the Post and the Daily News blamed the child for being in the street, WNBC spoke with witnesses who said the driver was speeding.

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NYPD: Drivers Injured 945 Pedestrians and Cyclists in March, and Killed Six

Image: NYPD

Image: NYPD

Twelve people died in New York City traffic in March, and 3,641 were injured, according to the latest NYPD crash data report [PDF].

As of the end of March, 24 pedestrians and cyclists were reported killed by city motorists this year, and 2,778 injured, compared to 33 deaths and 3,246 injuries for the same period in 2014. Those figures represent a 27 percent year-to-year reduction in fatalities, and a 14 percent drop in injuries.

Citywide, at least six pedestrians and were fatally struck by drivers: two in the Bronx; three in Brooklyn; and one in Queens. Among the victims were Dave Jones, Xiali Yue, Kadeem Brown, Tierre Clark, an unnamed female pedestrian in Queens, and an unnamed female pedestrian in Brooklyn. Motorists killed at least one child and two seniors in March: Tierre Clark, 5; and the unnamed pedestrians in Queens and Brooklyn, whose ages were reported as 80 and 84, respectively.

NYPD reported no cyclist deaths in March.

Across the city, 786 pedestrians and 159 cyclists were reported hurt in collisions with motor vehicles. Per NYPD policy, few of these crashes were investigated by trained officers.

Of six fatal crashes on surface streets reported by Streetsblog and other outlets, two motorists were known to have been charged for causing a death. The driver who hit Dave Jones, reportedly during a police chase, was charged with manslaughter, and the motorist who killed Xiali Yue was charged under the Right of Way Law. Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson filed no charges against the driver who killed Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown, who were on a sidewalk when they were struck. 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.

Three motorists and three passengers died in the city in March; 1,293 and 1,403 were injured, respectively.

There were 17.842 motor vehicle crashes in the city last month, including 2,687 that resulted in injury or death.

Download March NYPD summons data here. NYPD posts geocoded crash data here. Crash and summons data from prior months is available in multiple formats here.

After the jump: contributing factors for crashes resulting in injury and death.

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NYPD Tickets Driver After Blaming Staten Island Teen for Her Own Death

After initially blaming the victim in the press, NYPD issued a careless driving summons to the monster truck driver who killed 15-year-old Jenna Daniels as she jogged along a Staten Island street last winter. The department refused to release the driver’s name or disclose how he was penalized, the Staten Island Advance reports.

After blaming Jenna Daniels for her own death, NYPD found the motorist who hit her failed to exercise due care.  Photo via Staten Island Advance

After blaming Jenna Daniels for her own death, NYPD found the motorist who hit her failed to exercise due care. Photo via Staten Island Advance

The driver hit Daniels with a pickup truck as he made a left turn from Hylan Boulevard onto Bayview Avenue in Prince’s Bay on the afternoon of November 15, according to the Advance. Police said Daniels was on Hylan, crossing Bayview from west to east, when she was struck. She suffered severe head trauma and was declared dead on arrival at the hospital.

Photos taken at the scene showed a black Ford F-150 with a raised chassis, oversized aftermarket wheels, a blacked-out grille and front bumper, and tinted headlights. In the photos, the truck is sitting in the street a few yards from the crosswalk.

In November, before completing an investigation, NYPD issued a “preliminary” finding that Daniels was jogging “outside the crosswalk … with headphones in her ears.” Jogging with headphones is legal, and according to attorney Steve Vaccaro, mid-block crossings are permitted on the street where the crash occurred.

While NYPD emphasized Daniels’s actions, the driver’s speed at the time of the collision “was not recorded as part of the CIS report.” The driver was ticketed for tinted windows, but police said they “did not contribute to the crash.”

In November NYPD told the Advance the driver “had the right of way” and that “pedestrian error: crossing outside marked crosswalk” caused the crash. But in March, with a “months-long investigation” complete, the Advance reported that police summonsed the driver for failure to exercise due care.

Despite NYPD’s determination that the motorist was driving carelessly, and the absence of evidence that the victim was breaking traffic rules, an NYPD spokesperson said Daniels “contributed to the collision.”

NYPD continued to shield the driver’s identity and “declined to divulge the driver’s punishment,” the Advance reported.

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Cy Vance: $580 Fine for Driver Who Killed 9-Year-Old Cooper Stock

Following a plea deal agreed to by Manhattan DA Cy Vance, the driver who killed Cooper Stock in a crosswalk was fined $580 and lost his driving privileges for six months.

Following a plea deal agreed to by Manhattan DA Cy Vance, the driver who killed Cooper Stock in a crosswalk was fined $580 and lost his driving privileges for six months.

In separate stories published yesterday, family members of Marilyn Dershowitz and Cooper Stock, both lost to traffic violence, criticized Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance for his reluctance to file serious charges against motorists who kill people.

Vance declined to apply criminal charges against Koffi Komlani, the cab driver who struck 9-year-old Cooper and his father as the two walked hand in hand in an Upper West Side crosswalk in January 2014. Cooper was killed, his father was injured, and it took Vance 11 months to charge Komlani with two traffic offenses — careless driving and failure to yield.

Komlani’s attorney said weather caused the crash, the same excuse Vance’s office gave Cooper’s family for not pursuing a criminal case.

On Monday, according to the Post, prosecutors agreed to a plea arrangement for Komlani: a $580 fine and a six-month license suspension. Komlani’s attorney said Vance’s office did not ask for jail time, which would have maxed out at 15 days.

[Cooper’s mother Dana] Lerner said District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office told her they needed two misdemeanors to charge Komlani criminally — even though the prosecutor campaigned on getting rid of that case law precedent, referred to as the “rule of two.”

“It goes without saying that what happened here today does not even begin to bring justice in the death of my son Cooper Stock,” said a statement from Lerner, read yesterday in court. “Giving this man a traffic ticket for killing my son is an insult to us and to Cooper’s memory. Is a life worth nothing more than a traffic ticket?”

The New York Press reports that a civil jury last week ruled U.S. Postal Service driver Ian Clement at fault for killing cyclist Marilyn Dershowitz in 2011. Clement ran Dershowitz over, stopped his truck for a moment, then drove away. He was cleared by a jury of leaving the scene, a charge filed by Vance after the Dershowitz family complained to the media about the DA’s handling of the case.

The Press reports that Judge Sarah Netburn ruled Clement “was negligent in his operation of his vehicle, causing the accident and [Dershowitz’s] death.”

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NYPD: Drivers Injured 816 Pedestrians and Cyclists in February, and Killed 11

Image: NYPD

Image: NYPD

Fifteen people died in New York City traffic in February, and 2,979 were injured, according to the latest NYPD crash data report [PDF].

As of the end of February, 18 pedestrians and cyclists were reported killed by city motorists this year, and 1,833 injured, compared to 22 deaths and 2,105 injuries for the same period in 2014. Drivers injured fewer pedestrians and cyclists in February than in any other month since at least January 2012, according to NYPD data.

Citywide, at least 11 pedestrians were fatally struck by drivers: one in Manhattan; two in the Bronx; three in Brooklyn; and five in Queens. Among the victims were Kamil Gorski, Marco Orellana, Regina Stevenson, Yu-O Pan, Isaak Trakhtenberg, Jao Lin Zhu, Martin Hernandez Tufino, Daniel Cabrera, Kenny Valette, and an unnamed female pedestrian in Queens. Motorists killed at least two seniors in February: Isaak Trakhtenberg, 83; and Jao Lin Zhu, 80.

NYPD reported no cyclist deaths in February.

Across the city, 735 pedestrians and 81 cyclists were reported hurt in collisions with motor vehicles. Per NYPD policy, few of these crashes were investigated by trained officers.

Of 10 fatal crashes on surface streets reported by Streetsblog and other outlets, one motorist was known to have been charged for causing a death. Based on NYPD and media accounts, at least four victims were likely walking or cycling with the right of way when they were struck, but police and district attorneys are known to have applied the city’s Right of Way Law in only one of those crashes. 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 two cases after a pedestrian was killed police blamed the victim in the press.

Two motorists and two passengers died in the city in February; 1,041 and 1,122 were injured, respectively.

There were 15,599 motor vehicle crashes in the city last month, including 2,220 that resulted in injury or death.

NYPD had not posted citywide February summons data as of this writing. NYPD posts geocoded crash data here. Crash and summons data from prior months is available in multiple formats here.

After the jump: contributing factors for crashes resulting in injury and death.

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Two People Were Killed in This Crash and the Bronx DA Hasn’t Filed Charges

Warning: Graphic video

Update: DNAinfo reported that the victim in the video is Manuel Quiñones, who was hospitalized in critical condition. The Post reported that the victim is Kadeem Brown. This post has been edited to reflect uncertainty of the victim’s identity. The green cab driver was identified by the Post and the Daily News as Emilio Garcia.

Video posted online shows a speeding green cab driver strike a pedestrian on the Grand Concourse. The driver killed Kadeem Brown and 5-year-old Tierre Clark and injured two others. No charges were filed by NYPD or Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson.

Bronx DA Robert Johnson

Bronx DA Robert Johnson

The crash happened at the Grand Concourse and E. 170th Street on March 20. The video, posted on Facebook by a man who identified himself as the owner of a bodega on the northeast corner of the intersection, shows the green cab driver strike a victim at high speed on a Concourse service road.

Brown, 25, died at the scene. In addition to Brown, the cab driver struck Clark and two adults who were standing on the sidewalk, reportedly waiting for a bus. Clark died at a hospital. A 55-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman, who according to some reports was Tierre’s mother, were hospitalized.

The driver was identified only as a 44-year-old man. His name was withheld by NYPD and the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

The TLC told Streetsblog the driver’s TLC license was suspended, pending the outcome of the crash investigation. If NYPD and Johnson decline to file charges it’s likely the driver will have his TLC license restored.

Streetsblog has asked Johnson’s office for an update on this case.

Johnson did not file charges against the woman who drove onto a sidewalk outside a Bronx school last October, hitting 10 people and killing 8-year-old Rylee Ramos.