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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 cyclist was struck and killed by a private ambulette driver on Irving Avenue in Bushwick. Photo: Google

A man in his sixties was biking at 37th Avenue and Parsons Boulevard in Flushing when a private ambulate driver struck and killed him. Image: Google Maps via Gothamist

Fatal Crashes (2 Killed This Week; 122 This Year*)

  • Flushing: Cyclist Struck by Ambulette Driver; No Charges (DNAGothamistNY1)
  • East Elmhurst: Motorcycle Passenger Killed When Driver Crashes on Grand Central Parkway (DNA)

Injuries, Arrests, and Property Damage

  • Bushwick: Cyclist Struck, Seriously Injured on Irving Avenue (DNA)
  • West Village: Van Driver Critically Injures 22-Year-Old Pedestrian; “No Criminality” (News, DNA)
  • Morris Heights: Five Injured, Including Child, in Cross Bronx Expressway Collision (Post)
  • Far Rockaway: Pedestrian Struck, Seriously Injured; CIS Requested (@NYScanner)
  • Maspeth: Four Injured in Two-Car Crash After Driver Runs Red Near Long Island Expressway (News)
  • East Flatbush: Ambulance Driver Carrying Patient Crashes Into Parked Cars, Flips (Post)
  • Dongan Hills: Driver Slams Through Restaurant Window Trying to Pull Into Parking Spot (Advance)**
  • South Williamsburg: Tractor Crashes Into House at Lee Avenue and Penn Street (@NYScanner)**
  • Stapleton: Two Extricated From Overturned Vehicle (Advance)
  • Park Slope: Driver Attacks Bus Driver With Broken Side View Mirror Following Collision (News)
  • Silver Lake: Off-Duty Firefighter Charged With DWI After Crashing Car Into Bus Stop (Advance)

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

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NYC Traffic Injuries Down 6.6 Percent in First Half of 2014

Traffic injuries in New York City declined nearly 7 percent in the first six months of 2014 compared to the same period last year, according to NYPD data compiled by Streetsblog. Fatalities have also declined slightly, from 121 to 117.

The most significant drop in traffic deaths was among pedestrians, falling from 72 in the first six months of 2013 to 55 this year. Pedestrian injuries, which are less subject to random variation, declined 6.8 percent, nearly the same rate as overall traffic injuries.

While the decline in injuries suggests a tangible improvement in street safety, the precise causes are unclear. The deployment of speed cameras, increased NYPD enforcement of failure-to-yield violations, DOT street redesigns, and the harsh winter are all plausible factors.

The human toll — 24,383 injuries and 117 deaths — remains staggering and points to how much Mayor de Blasio and his commissioners at NYPD, DOT, and the TLC must change to achieve the administration’s Vision Zero goals.

While fewer lives have been lost on NYC streets in 2014 compared to 2013 and 2012, the first six months of 2011 saw fewer fatalities — 102, according to NYC DOT records. (NYPD’s monthly crash reports don’t go back to the beginning of 2011.) With 250 traffic deaths over the course of all 12 months, 2011 was the least deadly year on NYC streets in modern history.

Looking at vulnerable street users, drivers killed 63 pedestrians and cyclists in the first six months of 2014 and injured 7,080, compared to 78 deaths and 7,633 injuries for the same period in 2013. Below are the traffic violence summaries for the month of June, which NYPD recently posted online [PDF].

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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.

Times Square: A tour bus driver hit an SUV and another sightseeing bus, then drove onto the sidewalk, toppling a light pole. Eighteen people were injured. No charges were filed. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/FDNY/status/496750617613066240##@FDNY##

Times Square: A tour bus driver hit an SUV and another sightseeing bus, then drove onto the sidewalk, toppling a light pole. Eighteen people were injured. No charges were filed. Photo: @FDNY

Fatal Crashes (14 Killed Since July 18; 120 This Year*)

  • Upper West Side: Valding Duran, 13, Hit by Cab Driver While Riding Bike on July 20, Dies From Injuries; No Charges Filed (West Side Rag 1, 2; News)
  • Springfield Gardens: Frank Korowitz, 62, Hit by Unlicensed Driver on Cross Belt Parkway (News, DNA)
  • Flushing: Agatha Tsunis, 87, Struck Crossing Willets Point Blvd.; No Charges (NewsTL)
  • Bath Beach: Margherita Nanfro, 80, Killed Crossing Street; No Charges (Streetsblog)
  • Forest Hills: 79-Year-Old Woman Struck by Van Driver; No Charges (News)
  • Midwood: Avrohom Mordechai Feldmaus, 89, Struck by Drunk Driver, Dies from Injuries (JP Updates)
  • East Harlem: 44-Year-Old Motorcyclist Struck by Ambulance Driver (WNYC)
  • St. Albans: Motorcyclist Pastor De La Cruz, 45, in Crash With DWI Truck Driver (Post)
  • Astoria: Anthony Boyd, 45, Crashes During Heart Attack; Passengers, Pedestrians Injured (News)
  • Steinway: Balazs Pusztahazi, 39, Crashes Motorcycle Into Parked Cars on Astoria Blvd. (News)
  • Flushing: Driver and Passenger, Both 30, Killed in 100 MPH Crash (News)
  • Oakland Gardens: Andy Ramdhanie, 19, Flips Car on Grand Central Parkway (News, WNYC)
  • Van Cortlandt Village: Driver Killed by Slamming Into Pillar, Sheering Car in Half (News)

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Will Cy Vance Fail to Prosecute Another Serious Midtown Curb-Jump Crash?

New Yorkers have seen this before.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance sees no evidence of recklessness here. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/FDNY/status/496750617613066240##@FDNY##

No evidence of recklessness here, says Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance. Photo: @FDNY

On a beautiful summer day, a professional driver with a history of recklessness behind the wheel drives onto a crowded Midtown sidewalk, striking multiple people and causing serious injuries. The driver lays blame elsewhere, on factors he claims were beyond his control. Meanwhile, staff from Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office, who don’t normally discuss vehicular crimes with reporters, issue statements assuring the public that prosecutors are on the case.

It was one year ago this month that yellow cab driver Mohammad Faysal Himon severed the leg of tourist Sian Green. In November, Vance’s office announced that no charges would be filed.

On Tuesday afternoon, William Dalambert crashed a Gray Line double-decker bus into an SUV and another sightseeing bus at 47th Street and Seventh Avenue, then jumped the curb and knocked over a light pole, injuring 18 people. Dalambert has anywhere from 11 to 20 license suspensions on his record, according to reports. He has been cited for speeding, using a cell phone while driving, and driving without a license. Video reportedly shows him accelerating before Tuesday’s crash, as the light in front of the bus turned red. Dalambert claimed the brakes on the bus failed, but investigators found no evidence of a mechanical problem.

Dalambert was arrested for driving while ability impaired, but further tests indicated no intoxication, and to this point Vance has filed no charges.

“[A]t this present stage of the investigation, there is not sufficient basis to conclude that the defendant was operating the tour bus in a reckless manner,” read a court notice filed by Vance’s office. Vance spokesperson Joan Vollero said the office is still investigating: “We are awaiting results of the full toxicology report. We are taking this matter seriously.”

Whether or not Dalambert was under the influence, that he drove into two vehicles, mounted the curb and injured multiple bystanders is not in dispute. Only through sheer luck did the people in his path escape death, and the severity of the victims’ injuries is not publicly known.

There is video of this crash, and, as with the Sian Green case, no shortage of witnesses. And yet — as with the Sian Green case — Vance has issued no charges for recklessness or criminal negligence.

Time will tell if DA Vance steps up in this instance to protect New Yorkers from dangerous drivers, or if the outcome of this serious crash will be déjà vu all over again.

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NYPD: No Reason to Investigate Greenway Crash That Hospitalized Cyclist

A witness to the aftermath of a Hudson River Greenway crash that sent a cyclist to the hospital says NYPD officers, including personnel from the Collision Investigation Squad, said they did not intend to investigate the cause of the collision, explaining to bystanders that it was an “accident” while blaming the cyclist.

By declining to determine what caused a collision between a bus driver and a greenway cyclist, NYPD failed to take steps that could prevent future injuries. Photo: Hilda Cohen

By declining to determine what caused a collision between a bus driver and a greenway cyclist, NYPD failed to take steps that could prevent future injuries. Photo: Hilda Cohen

Just after 9:30 a.m. last Thursday, July 24, a NY Waterways bus driver and a cyclist collided at the greenway and W. 40th Street, in Hell’s Kitchen. Responders transported the cyclist to Bellevue Hospital in serious condition, FDNY said.

Reader Hilda Cohen, who alerted Streetsblog to the crash, asked officers at the scene if they would impound the bike as evidence. ”Why would we investigate?” an officer said, according to Cohen. “This was clearly an accident.” Cohen told Streetsblog the officer who made those comments was with the Collision Investigation Squad.

While “accident” implies no one was at fault, Cohen said police also preemptively blamed the cyclist. In the comments on our post last week, Cohen wrote: “The attitude was nightmarish, with comments like: ‘A bus isn’t gonna yield to anyone,’ [and] ‘The only reason this happened is because that guy was going too fast on his bike.’” NYPD also told Cohen the cyclist “hit the bus” before he was “dragged under the front wheel.”

The dismissiveness on the part of NYPD in this case is alarming for many reasons. For one thing, had they conducted an investigation, officers might have spoken with cyclists about the conflict between greenway users and turning drivers at the intersection where the crash occurred.

Cohen told Streetsblog via email that she spoke with cyclists, as well as police, at the scene. ”There was really a lot of talk about who was at fault, and sadly the majority figured the cyclist was at fault simply because it was a bus,” she said. “The fact is it is a bad design. Turning vehicles should yield to the path users — it is quite blatant — but the comments from the NYPD were excusing the driver, because it was a bus.”

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No Charges for Motorist Who Killed Senior Margherita Nanfro in Bath Beach

Would daylighting the intersection of Rutherford Place and Bay 16th Street have prevented the crash that killed Margherita Nanfro? With cursory media coverage and NYPD keeping crash reports hidden from view, the public may never know. Image: Google Maps

Would daylighting the intersection of Rutherford Place and Bay 16th Street have prevented the crash that killed Margherita Nanfro? On this and other questions, the public is left to speculate, thanks to scant information available from NYPD. Image: Google Maps

A Brooklyn driver who killed a senior by crashing into her on a neighborhood street in broad daylight was not charged by NYPD, though reports suggest the victim had the right of way.

The 37-year-old motorist drove into Margherita Nanfro as she crossed Rutherford Place at Bay 16th Street in Bath Beach at around 12:20 p.m. on July 25, according to the Home Reporter. The driver, in a Honda sedan, was westbound on Rutherford Place, a single-lane, one-way street lined with residences. Nanfro was pronounced dead at Lutheran Medical Center.

Photos published by Brooklyn Daily indicate Nanfro was struck with enough force to throw her onto the windshield. Photos show the car stopped on Rutherford Place about halfway between Bay 16th Street and 17th Avenue, the next intersection.

Though reports are vague, if Nanfro was crossing Rutherford Place at the intersection, she would have been in an unmarked crosswalk and likely would have had the right of way. Other crucial details are also missing. How, in the middle of the day, did the driver fail to see an 80-year-old crossing the street in front of her? How fast was she going in order to throw the victim onto the hood of the car? Did NYPD crash investigators address these questions? The public doesn’t know, and probably never will unless the crash report is released pursuant to a freedom of information request.

Though several outlets say the NYPD investigation is “ongoing,” the Daily News reported that according to police the driver “did not face criminal charges.”

Beginning next month, it will be a crime for a NYC motorist to strike a pedestrian or cyclist who has the right of way. But unless NYPD makes drastic changes to the way the department approaches crashes, Intro 238 will be another traffic safety law that goes all but unenforced.

This fatal crash occurred in the 62nd Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Captain William G. Taylor, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 62nd Precinct council meetings happen at 7:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month at the precinct, located at 1925 Bath Avenue. Call 718-236-2501 for information.

The City Council district where Margherita Nanfro was killed is represented by Vincent Gentile. To encourage Gentile to take action to improve street safety in his district and citywide, contact him at 212-788-7363, vgentile@council.nyc.gov or @VGentile43.

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No Homicide Charge for Unlicensed Curb-Jumping Driver Who Killed SI Woman

A motorist who crashed on a Staten Island sidewalk was charged by District Attorney Dan Donovan with driving without a license and drug possession, but not for killing one pedestrian and hospitalizing another.

Christal Aliotta. Photo via Staten Island Advance

Christal Aliotta. Photo via SI Advance

On the afternoon of June 9, a motorist jumped the curb and hit 31-year-old Christal Aliotta and her 20-year-old cousin Stephanie Canecchio as they walked along Hylan Boulevard at Cleveland Avenue in Great Kills. Aliotta, the mother of two young daughters, died at the scene. She was struck after reportedly pushing her cousin out of the driver’s path.

Police arrested Michael Fox, 23, who according to a criminal court complaint was found at the scene inside a 2005 Honda Accord with the engine running. The complaint says officers discovered a “hypodermic syringe, spoon with residue and tourniquet band” in the car, and found “two glassines containing heroin residue” in Fox’s pockets. Fox’s license had been suspended on May 23 for failure to answer a traffic summons, according to the complaint and the Staten Island Advance.

Fox was charged with possession of a controlled substance and third degree aggravated unlicensed operation, both misdemeanors. He was not charged with homicide or assault for killing Aliotta and injuring Canecchio. The criminal court complaint and arrest report only mention the victims in passing.

A spokesperson for Donovan’s office told Streetsblog prosecutors have Fox’s toxicology report, but declined to say what the results were. “[W]e are still reviewing them as the case is ongoing,” the spokesperson said via email.

On the day of her daughter’s wake, Lisa Canecchio said she wants Donovan to upgrade charges against Fox. From the Advance:

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NYPD: 1,263 Pedestrians and Cyclists Injured, 11 Killed in Traffic in May

Image: NYPD

Image: NYPD

Twenty-five people died in New York City traffic in May, and 4,621 were injured, according to the monthly NYPD crash data report [PDF].

As of the end of May, 54 pedestrians and cyclists were reported killed by city motorists this year, and 5,669 injured, compared to 64 deaths and 6,169 injuries for the same period in 2013.

Citywide, at least 10 pedestrians and two cyclists were fatally struck by drivers: three pedestrians in Manhattan; four pedestrians in Brooklyn; and three pedestrians and two cyclists in Queens. Among the victims were Rosa Anidjar, Felipe Palacios, Anthony Githere, Elliot Mintzer, William Faison, Galina Truglio, Charity Hicks, an unnamed female pedestrian in Manhattan, an unnamed male cyclist in Queens, two unidentified pedestrians in Brooklyn, and one unidentified pedestrian in Queens.

The NYPD report indicates there were nine pedestrian fatalities in May, but data compiled by Streetsblog from media sources and our own reporting show 10 pedestrian deaths.

Across the city, 882 pedestrians and 381 cyclists were reported hurt in collisions with motor vehicles. Per NYPD policy, few of these crashes were investigated by trained officers.

Of 12 fatal crashes reported by Streetsblog and other outlets, no motorists were known to have been charged for causing a death. 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.

Eleven motorists and three passengers died in the city in May; 1,557 and 1,801 were injured, respectively.

There were 18,172 motor vehicle crashes in the city in May, including 3,318 that resulted in injury or death.

Download May 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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Matthew Brenner, 29, Killed Earlier This Month on Sands Street

Matthew Brenner, who was struck by a motorist on Sands Street at an on-ramp to the BQE near the Manhattan Bridge bike path on July 6, died of his injuries soon after, his family and friends report.

Matt Brenner. Photo courtesy Leslie Newman.

Matt Brenner. Photo courtesy Leslie Newman.

“We’re still just kind of reeling from all this,” said Leslie Newman, Brenner’s half-sister. “We don’t really know much. We don’t have a police report yet. The police did not try and call my stepmom or any of us.”

NYPD says it received a call at 9:35 p.m. on Sunday, July 6. Brenner, 29, was struck by a 25-year-old woman driving a 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan as she pulled onto a ramp for the northbound Brooklyn Queens Expressway from Sands Street. She stayed on the scene; he was transported to Bellevue Hospital in critical condition with head trauma. Today, police said the investigation remains open and no charges have been filed.

Police say Brenner was riding against traffic on the eastbound side of Sands Street when he was struck. “It sounds surprising. There’s well-defined bike lanes in that area,” said Patrick Malloy, one of Brenner’s friends. “He was a well-versed urban cyclist. He wouldn’t try something like that.”

“The impact that I saw on the windshield of the car was on the far edge of the passenger side, so he was really close to the barrier,” said Braden King, who passed the crash scene on his way home just after 10 p.m. and has helped connect the family to resources in New York since then. “It’s obvious that the car was traveling pretty quickly,” he said. “It’s an on-ramp to the BQE.”

Malloy had heard from Brenner’s mother that he could have been walking his bike across the ramp entrance from the sidewalk and was attempting to get over the barrier separating the road from the Manhattan Bridge bike path when he was struck. The south side of Sands lacks crosswalks at the BQE ramps, and there is no sidewalk between the bike path railing and the roadbed. DOT traffic cameras are positioned on this stretch of roadway and would likely have captured the collision. The family has hired an attorney to investigate the crash.

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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.

Jean Chambers, pictured with her husband and daughter, was killed by a driver making a left turn at an Upper West Side intersection where a safety study recommended a ban on left turns. The plan was not endorsed by Community Board 7 and DOT did not implement it. Photo: Facebook via Daily News

Jean Chambers, pictured with her husband and daughter, was killed by a driver making a left turn at an Upper West Side intersection where a safety study recommended a ban on left turns. The plan was not endorsed by Community Board 7 and DOT did not implement it. Photo: Facebook via Daily News

Fatal Crashes (14 Killed Since 6/13; 102 This Year*)

  • UWS: Jean Chambers, 61, Hit by Turning Driver in Crosswalk at Intersection Where Safety Improvements Were Recommended in 2013 (Streetsblog)
  • Mill Basin: Joie Sellers, 12, Run Down on Sidewalk by Hit-and-Run Driver in Stolen Minivan; Sister and Mother Injured; Driver Charged With Manslaughter (GothamistNewsPost)***
  • Chelsea: Jacqueline Haeflinger, 58, Backed Over by DSNY Worker While Trying to Save Dog (NYT)***
  • Jackson Heights: Drunk Unlicensed Driver Kills Pedestrian on Roosevelt Ave. (Times Ledger)
  • Marine Park: Bryan Loughran, 32, Struck by Hit-and-Run Driver on Gerritsen Ave. (Post)***
  • Sheepshead Bay: Tow Truck Driver Runs Over Pedestrian in Parking Lot (NY1)**
  • Auburndale: Ethel Zaremba, 91, Drives Over Center Median Into Pole (Courier)
  • Brooklyn Heights: Leroy Samuel, 22, Drives Into Tractor Trailer While Fleeing NYPD (DNA)
  • East Flatbush: Marquis Willis, 22, Passenger Killed When Drunk Driver Hits Sanitation Truck (DNA)
  • Far Rockaway: Marcus Joel, 26, Runs Motorcycle Into Curb, Utility Pole (TL)
  • Throgs Neck: Corri Samuels, 35, Drives Motorcycle Into Pole on Cross Bronx Expwy. (DNA)
  • Queens Village: Motorcyclist Struck by Driver Making Left Turn (WNYC)
  • Bayside: DSNY Worker Stephen Frosch, 43, Pinned by Street Sweeper Driver (PostWNBC)**
  • Schuylerville: Speeding Driver Crashes Through Overpass Onto Bruckner Expwy. (NewsNews 12)**

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