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NYPD: Teacher Killed by Cop in Crosswalk “Assumed Risk” by Crossing Street


NYPD and the city Law Department are fighting a lawsuit filed by the family of a Brooklyn man who was killed in a crosswalk by an on-duty officer, on the grounds that the victim behaved recklessly by crossing the street.

Felix Coss was crossing Broadway at Hooper Street in Williamsburg, in a crosswalk with the signal, on the afternoon of July 6, 2013, when Officer Paula Medrano of the 90th Precinct struck him with a marked police van while turning left. Coss, a 61-year-old veteran Spanish teacher, suffered severe head injuries and died that night at Bellevue Hospital.

Felix Coss. Photo via DNAinfo

Video of the crash shows Medrano stopped at the Hooper Street crosswalk on the north side of the intersection as Coss, approaching from the south, stops for the signal. When the light changes, Coss enters the Broadway crosswalk, still facing Medrano, as Medrano accelerates into the intersection and turns left, driving directly into Coss and knocking him to the asphalt.

The NYPD crash report says Medrano “had the green light,” but does not indicate Coss was crossing with the walk signal and had the right of way.

Following up on a witness statement that Medrano was on her cell phone at the time of the crash, the Internal Affairs Bureau subpoenaed her phone records, according to the Daily NewsBut just two days after Coss was killed the Post reported that Medrano probably wouldn’t be summonsed or charged by NYPD. Though Coss “had the pedestrian signal,” the Post reported, “No criminality and no traffic-law violations are suspected.”

“It was a tragic, unfortunate accident,” an anonymous NYPD source said.

NYPD denied a Streetsblog freedom of information request for files related to the crash.

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No ROW Charge for Garbage Hauler Who Killed Woman in UES Crosswalk

The driver of a private sanitation truck fatally struck Jodi McGrath at First Avenue and E. 92nd Street. The red arrow indicates the path of the driver, and the white arrow shows the path of the victim. Image: Google Maps

The driver of a private sanitation truck fatally struck Jodi McGrath at First Avenue and E. 92nd Street. The red arrow indicates the path of the driver, and the white arrow shows the path of the victim. Image: Google Maps

A pedestrian was struck and killed by the driver of a private garbage truck on the Upper East Side yesterday. Police determined the driver failed to yield but did not charge him with violating the Right of Way Law.

The crash happened at around 4:30 Tuesday morning. According to reports, Jodi McGrath was crossing First Avenue west to east, in a crosswalk and with the signal, when the driver hit her while turning left onto the avenue from E. 92nd Street, which is one-way eastbound.

McGrath, 55, was conscious and responsive at the scene, Gothamist reported, with injuries to her head, leg, and arm. She later died at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

The driver was a 58-year-old man whose identity was shielded by NYPD. Police summonsed the driver for failure to yield, an NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog, but crash investigators did not file charges under the Right of Way Law. The law, which made it a misdemeanor for motorists to harm people who are walking and biking with the right of way, is supposed to deter reckless driving while providing a measure of accountability for crashes that injure and kill thousands of New Yorkers a year. It’s been on the books for 19 months, but NYPD and city district attorneys rarely apply it.

Speaking at last week’s Vision Zero Cities conference, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton didn’t know when the Right of Way Law took effect. “Everything new takes a while to get ramped up,” Bratton said.

Private sanitation trucks have the highest pedestrian kill rate of any type of vehicle in NYC, according to “Killed by Automobile,” a landmark 1999 analysis of crash data produced by Charles Komanoff [PDF]. Data tracked by Streetsblog show private trash haulers killed a cyclist and two pedestrians in 2015.

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NYC Drivers Injured 1,191 Pedestrians and Cyclists, and Killed 13, in February

Jose Contreras, Elise Lachowyn, Dorothy Heimann, Carol Dauplaise, and Stanley Marshall

Jose Contreras, Elise Lachowyn, Dorothy Heimann, Carol Dauplaise, and Stanley Marshall

Eighteen people died in New York City traffic in February, and 3,770 were injured, according to Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero View crash data map.

As of the end of February, the city reported 26 pedestrians and cyclists killed by city motorists this year, and 2,277 injured, compared to 21 deaths and 1,896 injuries for the same period in 2015.

Citywide, at least 11 pedestrians and two cyclists were fatally struck by drivers last month. Among the victims were Besik Shengelia, Jose Contreras, Stanley Marshall, Elise Lachowyn, Maria Minchala, Alexa Smith, Dorothy Heimann, Gwendolyn Booker, Carol Dauplaise, an unnamed female pedestrian in Brooklyn, an unnamed male pedestrian in Brooklyn, and an unnamed male pedestrian in the Bronx

Motorists killed at least two seniors in February: Dorothy Heimann, 90; and Carol Dauplaise, 77.

Across the city, 1,008 pedestrians and 183 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 on surface streets reported by Streetsblog and other outlets, three motorists were known to have been summonsed or charged criminally for causing a death.

Injuries to New York City pedestrians and cyclists are up this year compared to the same time period in 2014 and 2015. Data: Mayor's Office

Injuries to New York City pedestrians and cyclists are up this year compared to the same time period in 2014 and 2015. Data: Mayor’s Office

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Driver Backing Up to Park Kills Lin Qinyun, NYPD Blames Victim [Updated]

NYPD issued no tickets and filed no charges against the driver who backed over and killed Lin Qinyun in Corona. Image: Google Maps

NYPD issued no tickets and filed no charges against the driver who backed over and killed Lin Qinyun in Corona. Image: Google Maps

Update below

A driver backing up to get a parking space killed a woman in Queens and NYPD blamed the deceased victim.

Lin Qinyun, 64, was crossing 37th Avenue at 113th Street in Corona at around 8:45 a.m. last Friday when she was struck by a 54-year-old woman driving a Ford SUV.

NYPD faulted Qinyun for the crash. From the Times-Ledger:

The driver was eastbound on 37th Avenue and came to stop in the vicinity of 113th Street, the spokesman said.

The driver then put her vehicle in reverse and traveled westbound in reverse, the spokesman added.

Qinyun was crossing 37th Avenue at the time from north to south outside of a crosswalk into the path of the vehicle, which struck her, causing her to fall and strike her head on the pavement, the official said.

37th Avenue at 113th Street is a two-way street with one travel lane and one parking lane in each direction. There is a marked crosswalk on 113th Street, but no crosswalk markings or curb ramps on 37th Avenue.

Regardless of street conditions, state law requires motorists to exercise due care to avoid hitting people with vehicles. There is a park and a school on one side of 37th Avenue at 113th Street, and apartments on the other. The crash happened a few yards from a school zone.

“The driver didn’t see her. The car went right over her,” witness Rosealba Maneses told the Post. “She has blood on her head — it happened so fast.”

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No Charges for Driver Who Killed Dorothy Heimann, 90, in Whitestone

The Whitestone intersection where a turning driver mortally injured 90-year-old Dorothy Heimann. Image: Google Maps

The Whitestone intersection where a turning driver mortally injured 90-year-old Dorothy Heimann. Image: Google Maps

NYPD and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown filed no charges against a driver who hit a 90-year-old woman last month, causing fatal injuries.

The victim was struck in the 109th Precinct, which made news last year for initiating a crackdown on walking in response to a series of pedestrian deaths at the hands of motorists.

Dorothy Heimann was crossing Clintonville Street at around 9:50 a.m. on February 7 when the driver hit her with a Jeep SUV while turning left from 17th Avenue, according to NYPD and accounts published by Gothamist and Ridgewood Times.

Clintonville Street at 17th Avenue, in Whitestone, is a signalized intersection of two-way residential streets. There is no exclusive turn signal, according to Google Maps photos, so if the driver had a green light, it’s likely Heimann would have been crossing with the right of way.

Heimann, who lived in Whitestone, suffered head trauma. She died on March 4.

The Right of Way Law gives police and prosecutors a tool to hold drivers accountable for harming pedestrians and cyclists who are following traffic rules, but NYPD and city DAs rarely use it. As is usually the case when law enforcers don’t file charges for a serious crash, NYPD withheld the name of the motorist.

Gothamist reported that the driver fled the scene, but the NYPD spokesperson I talked with said she saw no indication that the crash was a hit and run.

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Hit-and-Run Drivers Killed Three Victims in Four Hours on Sunday [Updated]


Fatal Park Slope hit and run by Gothamist

Correction: Park Slope Stoop reports that the Park Slope victim was walking, not riding a bike. The copy in this post has been altered accordingly.

Hit-and-run drivers killed three New York City pedestrians within a few hours on Sunday.

Jose Contreras, 63, was struck by the driver of a black SUV as he crossed Webster Avenue at E. 175th Street, near the Cross Bronx Expressway, at approximately 1:30 a.m., according to the Times and WABC.

A hit-and-run driver killed Jose Contreras on Webster Avenue in the Bronx. Photo via WPIX

A hit-and-run driver killed Jose Contreras on Webster Avenue in the Bronx. Photo via WPIX

WABC reports:

Contreras was celebrating his sister’s 80th birthday and pulled over his car, his family said. He was going back in to check on his family because they were taking awhile to get out of the catering hall, and was crossing the street when he was hit.

“I left my father in the car, and I figured that’s where he would be when I came back out,” Joseph Contreras, the victim’s son, told the Post. “But when I came back out, he was in the middle of the street, laying in his own blood.”

Contreras died at Saint Barnabas Hospital.

At around 4:40 a.m., 48-year-old Besik Shengelia was retrieving items from his SUV on 111th Street near 109th Avenue in South Ozone Park when he was struck by a driver who left the scene. The make and model of the vehicle that hit Shengelia is unknown. He was pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital.

WABC, which reported that Shengelia worked for Uber, spoke with witnesses, including a woman who stopped other drivers from running over Shengelia after he was hit.

“It’s a shame that people was driving by and nobody stopped. National Grid saw me stopping traffic, and they came and helped us,” says [Sonia] Ramirez.

“The street does have a problem late at night with people speeding up and down the street, basically, and something needs to change around here,” eyewitness David Moore says.

The Post reported that Shengelia was “a former commander of the Georgian navy during the country’s 2008 war with Russia” who moved to the city with his family.

About 20 minutes after Shengelia was struck, the driver of a Nissan Altima ran a red light and hit a pedestrian in Park Slope.

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Donovan Richards Wants Safer Conditions at Deadly Rosedale Intersection

Motorists injure dozens of people a year at the Queens intersection where a driver killed 16-year-old Alexa Smith. Image: DOT Vision Zero View

Motorists injure dozens of people a year at the intersection of Conduit Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard, where a driver killed 16-year-old Alexa Smith. Image: DOT Vision Zero View

City Council Member Donovan Richards wants DOT to put speed cameras at the Rosedale intersection where a hit-and-run driver killed a teenage girl earlier this month — a request the city may not be able to fulfill due to restrictions imposed by Albany. Richards also urged DOT to make physical improvements to protect people from speeding drivers.

Donovan Richards

Donovan Richards

Alexa Smith, 16, was crossing Conduit Avenue at Francis Lewis Boulevard in the crosswalk just after midnight on February 11 when she was hit by the driver of a vehicle believed to be a dollar van. Her killer did not stop to summon help or render aid. Smith was pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital.

South Conduit Avenue is a high-speed road slicing through RosedaleThe speed limit on the avenue is 40 miles per hour where it crosses Francis Lewis Boulevard. Drivers injure dozens of people every year at the triangle formed by Conduit Avenue, Francis Lewis Boulevard, and 243rd Street, according to DOT crash data.

Locals interviewed after Smith’s death told the press that reckless drivers make crossing the street a life-and-death proposition, a point repeated by Richards at a press event last Friday.

From the Times-Ledger:

Richards said he would call on the Department of Transportation to add speed cameras at the intersection, which would have helped identify the perpetrator of the accident. He said additional pedestrian safety measures have also been suggested to ensure that residents will no longer have to risk their lives to cross this busy intersection.

“As Vision Zero spreads a wider net of pedestrian safety across the city, we also need the Department of Transportation to look at dangerous intersections such as right here at Sunrise and Francis Lewis,” said Richards.

“This is why we need speed cameras to slow drivers down and to hold them accountable for when they break the law. We also need the DOT to look at pedestrian-focused crossing signals that will ensure that they can cross the street without having to worry about frantic drivers trying to beat the light,” he said.

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Years After Death of Ariel Russo, NYPD Chases Still Injuring and Killing People

Last week Franklin Reyes was sentenced to three to nine years in prison for the death of 4-year-old Ariel Russo.

NYPD pursuits have killed at least one person since the 2013 death of Ariel Russo, and injured an unknown number of other people.

NYPD pursuits have killed at least one person since the 2013 death of Ariel Russo, and injured an unknown number of bystanders and police.

Police pulled Reyes over on W. 89th Street, between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues, on June 4, 2013, after he drove his family’s pick-up truck across several lanes to make a turn. As officers walked toward the truck, Reyes, who was 17 and did not have a drivers license, hit the gas.

Police chased Reyes for eight blocks until he crashed onto the sidewalk at Amsterdam and W. 97th Street, where Ariel and her grandmother, Katia Gutierrez, were walking to Ariel’s school. Reyes hit them both, killing Ariel and injuring Gutierrez.

NYPD vehicle pursuits that result in death typically lead to serious charges for the people being chased. According to court records, Reyes pled guilty to manslaughter, assault, and two counts of fleeing police — all felonies. Gothamist reports that he was sentenced Friday.

“Ariel died a violent death because of your reckless behavior and you have not apologized,” said Sofia Russo, Ariel’s mother, in court. “You have shown no remorse.”

Nor has NYPD stopped engaging in car chases. NYPD policy says “a vehicle pursuit be terminated whenever the risks to uniformed members of the service and the public outweigh the danger to the community.” As in the case of Ariel Russo, and Karen Schmeer, and Violetta Kryzak, and Mary Celine Graham, many times a pursuit doesn’t end until the suspect crashes. In the wake of Ariel’s death, NYPD chases are still injuring and killing people.

NYPD hides police crash data from the public, so we don’t know exactly how much injury, loss of life, and property damage is caused every year due in part to the department’s open-ended pursuit policy. Stories about police pursuits that lead to injuries still surface regularly in the press. In March 2015 an unlicensed driver attempting to evade police killed Dave Jones on a sidewalk in Crown Heights.

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DOT: Drivers Injured 1,084 Pedestrians and Cyclists, and Killed 13, in January

Richard Oates, Can Reng Ma, Rodney Graham, Thomas McAnulty

Richard Oates, Can Reng Ma, Rodney Graham, and Thomas McAnulty

Seventeen people died in New York City traffic in January, and 3,750 were injured, according to DOT’s Vision Zero View crash data map.

DOT reported 11 pedestrians and two cyclists killed by city motorists last month, and 1,084 injured, compared to 10 deaths and 1,043 injuries in January 2015.

Among the victims of fatal crashes were Andrea Kremen, Rodney Graham, Richard Oates, Thomas McAnulty, Can Reng Ma, Nancy Ventura, Alfiya Djuraeva, and an unnamed male pedestrian in Manhattan.

Motorists killed at least two seniors in January: Andrea Kremen, 68, and Thomas McAnulty, 73.

Across the city, 915 pedestrians and 169 cyclists were reported hurt in collisions with motor vehicles. Per NYPD policy, few of these crashes were investigated by trained officers.

Of eight 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. The truck driver who killed cyclist Can Reng Ma was charged with felony leaving the scene, but was not charged for taking a life. The motorist who killed the unnamed Manhattan pedestrian was charged with manslaughter, felony leaving the scene, and DWI. The driver who killed Alfiya Djuraeva was charged with failure to yield.

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.

A witness told the press Andrea Kremen went airborne for 70 yards after she was hit by a driver on the Upper East Side. The driver was not charged. Rodney Graham’s girlfriend said he survived being hit by one driver but was struck again by another motorist, who fled the scene, as he tried to reach the sidewalk on Atlantic Avenue. Before filing charges, NYPD offered the hit-and-run driver who killed Can Reng Ma a preemptive “didn’t see him” defense. Thomas McAnulty, killed by a motorcycle rider on Amsterdam Avenue, was “best friends” with his 7-year-old grandson, the victim’s grieving son told the press.

Four motor vehicle occupants died in the city in January, according to DOT, and 2,666 were injured.

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Truck Driver Kills Maria Minchala, 63, in Washington Heights Crosswalk

Though it has center islands, Broadway at W. 165th Street, where a driver killed Maria Minchala, is inhospitable to people on foot. Image: Google Maps

Though it has center islands, Broadway at W. 165th Street, where a driver killed Maria Minchala, is inhospitable to people on foot. Eight people were injured in crashes at the intersection in 2015. Image: Google Maps

A truck driver killed a woman in a Washington Heights crosswalk Wednesday night — the second pedestrian fatally struck by New York City motorists yesterday.

Maria Minchala was crossing at Broadway east to west at W. 165th Street, near New York-Presbyterian Hospital, at around 8:45 p.m. when the driver, turning right onto Broadway, struck her with a flatbed truck, according to reports.

From the Daily News:

“She went to church to get her ashes, and then she was on her way to work,” said her distraught son, Manuel Minchala, 36, crying as he spoke. Minchala worked for a private office cleaning company.

“I took the turn real slow, three miles an hour. I never saw her. I felt a bump. It wasn’t right. I pulled over and went back and saw the lady,” said the driver, who didn’t give his name.

“She is a mother of five. She has four grandchildren. We are from Ecuador,” Manuel Minchala said. “She brought us here for a better life. She was a good, hard-working woman.”

The driver’s name was not released by police. Though it appears likely the victim would have been crossing with the right of way, no charges were filed and no tickets were issued as of this afternoon, NYPD told Streetsblog.

Much of Broadway in Upper Manhattan is a chaotic and dangerous mess, with motorists slaloming around double-parked cars. Though Broadway has center islands at W. 165th Street, with five lanes of motor vehicle through-traffic and no bike infrastructure it’s a foreboding crossing to navigate on foot.

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