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Posts from the Carnage Category


NYPD to Brooklyn Seniors: Stop Getting Killed by Motorists

Drivers keep killing seniors in southern Brooklyn and the NYPD’s response was to admonish seniors to be more careful crossing the street.

New York City seniors are disproportionately victimized by traffic violence. Does NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan think bright clothes are the answer?

NYC seniors are disproportionately victimized by traffic violence. Does NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan think bright clothing is the answer?

DNAinfo reports that as of September 9, eight of 15 pedestrians killed by drivers this year in the Brooklyn South command were age 65 or older.

To combat the trend, precincts in the area have distributed fliers and notices to residents giving tips to older pedestrians on how to navigate the streets safely.

The fliers suggest wearing “light or bright colored clothing so drivers will notice you,” waiting for a fresh walk signal to cross and treating driveways with the same caution before crossing as if they were roads.

Got that? NYPD says it’s up to seniors to avoid being struck by drivers even when on the sidewalk.

Streetsblog has tracked six crashes that claimed the lives of senior pedestrians so far this year in Brooklyn South. Three of the victims were age 90 and older. In at least four cases, the victim was reportedly proceeding with the right of way when she or he was hit. Three victims were hit by drivers making turns, and in two cases drivers struck the victims while backing up. This is consistent with city studies showing that motorist behavior is the primary factor in most crashes that injure pedestrians.

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NYPD: No Charges for Driver Whose Boat Trailer Detached, Killing Cyclist

NYPD has filed no charges against a driver whose boat trailer came unhitched and struck two people riding bikes in Staten Island yesterday, killing one of the victims.

Alexa Cioffi. Photo via SI Advance

Alexa Cioffi. Photo via Staten Island Advance

Alexa Cioffi, 21, and another woman were riding northbound on Hylan Boulevard at Redgrave Avenue at around 5:18 p.m. when a northbound driver towing a boat with a truck attempted to pass the cyclists on the left, according to the Staten Island Advance.

As the SUV switched lanes, its trailer became detached and continued to travel north into the right lane, striking the 22-year-old cyclist. The boat was propelled north, hitting Cioffi who became pinned under the vehicle as it stopped.

“They were both hit — thud, thud,” a witness told the Daily News. “One woman was under the boat. The other woman was lying facedown by the light pole.”

Cioffi was pronounced dead at Staten Island University Hospital, the Advance reported. The second victim was hospitalized in critical condition.

If the crash occurred as reported, Cioffi and the other woman were cycling with the right of way when they were hit. But anonymous NYPD sources blamed the victims for their injuries while exculpating the unnamed driver, telling the Post the cyclists were not wearing helmets — which is legal — and that “police did not believe there was any immediate signs [sic] of criminality.”

Meanwhile, the Daily News cited unnamed NYPD sources who indicated that the trailer was not properly attached to the truck.

Sources close to the investigation said the hitch had been modified in some way.

“It came unhitched from the trailer, it wasn’t properly secured,” a police source said.

Streetsblog reader Joe Enoch is a reporter and is currently producing a national story for “Inside Edition” about the hazards of improperly attached trailers. “Unhitched trailers are more common than you think and very often deadly,” Enoch told us via email. Based on a crash scene photo published by the Daily News, Enoch said: “It’s likely the driver did not have either of the two required safety chains. You cross the two chains so that in the unlikely event the trailer comes loose, they safely cradle the hitch. That said, there’s also a good chance that the trailer did not have a proper pin to keep the latch from popping off.”

NYPD had issued no charges or summonses as of this morning. A police spokesperson said the investigation is “ongoing,” which usually means the Collision Investigation Squad hasn’t filed a complete report.


Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Gabriela Aguilar-Vallinos, 27, on City Island Bridge

Three people lost their lives in New York City traffic last weekend, including a woman bicycling home from her job in the Bronx. She was killed by a hit-and-run driver who remains on the loose.

Gabriela Aguilar-Vallinos. Photo via WCBS

Gabriela Aguilar-Vallinos. Photo via WCBS

Gabriela Aguilar-Vallinos, 27, was heading home to Soundview after leaving her job at Sammy’s Shrimp Box on City Island. As she was bicycling west over the City Island Bridge just after 11:45 p.m. Friday, the driver of a white 2015 Hyundai Genesis going the same direction struck her before fleeing the scene.

Aguilar-Vallinos suffered severe head trauma and was taken to Jacobi Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. The driver remains on the loose. Police have released video of the vehicle leaving a parking lot before its driver killed Aguilar-Vallinos.

“We are devastated,” Lenin Ramirez, a cousin of Aguilar-Vallinos, said through tears to WABC. “This guy, he just ran away.”

“Gabriela, she was really, really energetic person. She was always positive in life. She had so many plans,” Ramirez told WCBS. Aguilar-Vallinos moved to New York from Mexico at the age of 16, he said.

The City Island Bridge is currently under construction. When finished, the new bridge will have two six-foot bicycle lanes on either side. At the moment, there is no shoulder on the bridge, though there is a third center lane, not used by through traffic, across the length of the span.

The crash occurred in the 45th Precinct. To voice your concerns about traffic safety to Captain Danielle E. Raia, the precinct’s commanding officer, you can attend the precinct’s next community council meeting. It is scheduled for October 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Leonard Hawkins American Legion Post, 550 City Island Avenue.

Aguilar-Vallinos was not the only person killed on New York City’s streets that night.

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How America’s Staggering Traffic Death Rate Became Matter-of-Fact

How did more than 30,000 annual motor vehicle deaths become something that most Americans accept as normal? A new paper by Boston University professor Itai Vardi tries to answer that question.

A graph from a 1933 publication by Traveler's Insurance Company pins the blame for traffic deaths on individuals. Image: Vardi, 2014

A 1933 publication by Traveler’s Insurance Company pins the blame for traffic deaths on individual decisions without noting structural factors like the skyrocketing rate of driving itself. Image via Itai Vardi

Vardi reviewed American attitudes toward the problem of traffic deaths, starting in the early era of automobile growth, when there was a great deal of “moral panic” about the carnage on the nation’s streets.

His work is in a similar vein to University of Virginia professor Peter Norton, whose book Fighting Traffic recounts how the forces of “motordom” reshaped American streets by changing how people thought about cars in the city. Like Norton, Vardi has identified key conceptual frameworks that eventually led people to adopt the “matter-of-fact” tone we use to discuss today’s staggering rate of traffic deaths.

Vardi’s research encompasses historical accounts from media outlets, auto and insurance industry publications, activist groups, and, eventually, federal safety agencies. Here are three big factors that, according to Vardi, shaped the modern American view of traffic violence.

1. Thinking of traffic deaths in terms of fatalities per mile driven

Vardi says early, passionate accounts of traffic deaths framed the problem in terms of individual tragedies — the death of a child, for example — or listed the total number of annual casualties. Implicit in these reactions was a fundamental uncertainty about the widespread adoption of cars and their place in cities.

Emphasizing the total number of fatalities or individual cases dramatized the issue and often led to bold headlines. The Los Angeles Times editorial board, for example, told readers in 1922: “Blame the buzzwagon for nearly 15,000 violent deaths in America last year.”

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NYPD and Electeds Idle as NYC’s Hit-and-Run Epidemic Claims Another Life

It was a particularly barbaric crime: A driver fatally struck a person who was crossing the street with a walker, then left the scene. That it was the second such death in a matter of weeks is another reminder that New York City, thanks in part to indifference in Albany, is failing to meaningfully address its ongoing epidemic of deadly hit-and-run collisions.

Marlene Zotti in a family photo, via the Post.

Marlene Zotti in a family photo, via the Post.

Last Sunday at around 12:30 a.m., 59-year-old Marlene Zotti was crossing Ninth Avenue at 42nd Street in Borough Park when a man, identified in the press as Marco Ortiz, ran her over with a minivan. Ortiz allegedly did not stop to summon or render aid.

Zotti, who had diabetes, had exited the B11 bus shortly before she was hit, the Post reported. She died at the scene.

On Monday, more than 24 hours after the crash, Ortiz turned himself in at the 66th Precinct, according to the Post. The Post said Ortiz “told police he had been arguing with his wife” before hitting Zotti.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson charged Ortiz with leaving the scene, a D felony that carries penalties ranging from probation to seven years in prison, according to court records. Thompson filed no charges for the act of killing Marlene Zotti.

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DA Ken Thompson: Charges for Punching Driver, No Charges for Killing Child

Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson filed charges against the man accused of punching the driver who killed Jadann Williams, but did not charge the driver.

Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson filed charges against the man accused of punching the driver who killed Jadann Williams, but did not charge the driver.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson is prosecuting the man accused of punching the driver who killed 8-year-old Jadann Williams in Flatbush, but Thompson filed no charges against the driver.

Jadann was playing with a group of kids on E. 22nd Street on the afternoon of August 26 when a man identified by the Daily News as Reginald Auguste hit her with an SUV. Jadann suffered head trauma and died at Kings County Hospital.

East 22nd Street north of Ditmas Avenue, where the crash occurred, is a narrow, two-way cul-de-sac lined with apartments. The News said Auguste “lived on the block and was known for having a lead foot.” A witness said he “tried to press the brake, but went 15 to 20 feet before he stopped,” an indication that Jadann might be alive today if Auguste had been driving slower.

“The guy was a known speeder,” another witness told the News. “You know the children are present. You have to drive at a decent speed.”

While NYPD let Auguste go, police arrested Ryan Romans, who knew Jadann and witnessed the crash, for allegedly punching Auguste in the face.

NYPD and Thompson filed a number of charges against Romans, including misdemeanor assault, misdemeanor attempted assault, misdemeanor menacing, and harassment, according to court records. The top count against Romans is the assault charge, which carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail.

Romans was released without bail after his arrest. His next court date is in October.

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James Oddo Calls for Wider Roads Hours After SI Traffic Violence Claims Life

A UPS worker who lost a leg when a Staten Island driver slammed into him in April has died. NYPD and Staten Island prosecutors issued no summonses and filed no criminal charges in the case.

Tom Ryan. Photo via SI Advance

Tom Ryan. Photo via SI Advance

Tom Ryan, 52, was unloading packages from his truck at 2044 Hylan Boulevard on the morning of April 6 when a driver hit him with a Toyota sedan, according to the Staten Island Advance. NYPD told the Advance the driver was in the left, northbound lane and “tried to avoid hitting a pedestrian who crossed in front of his vehicle.”

The driver lost control of his vehicle and it swerved into the right lane, striking and pinning Ryan against the back of the UPS truck, police said.

Ryan, of Bayonne, died this week, the Advance reported.

The impact from the crash severed one of his legs, causing him to bleed profusely and go into cardiac arrest. He slipped into a coma due to the loss of oxygen to his brain, and never regained consciousness, his wife [Elise Ryan] said.

“He had an anoxic brain injury — that was more of his injury than even the leg,” the grieving wife explained.

The driver who killed Ryan was not identified. Despite indications that driver speed contributed to the crash — and was likely the difference between whether Ryan lived or died — no charges were filed by police, former district attorney Dan Donovan, or acting DA Daniel Master Jr., who took office in May, after Donovan was elected to Congress.

The crash that killed Tom Ryan occurred in the 122nd Precinct — where as of July local officers had ticketed 1,180 drivers for speeding in 2015 — and in the City Council district represented by Steve Matteo.

According to DOT, while overall NYC pedestrian deaths have dropped by nearly 50 percent in the last 30 years, the number of people killed by drivers while walking in Staten Island has not declined. But making streets safer is not a priority for Staten Island electeds.

Matteo has one of the worst records in the council on safe streets legislation. He was one of four council members, along with former Staten Island rep Vincent Ignizio, to vote against lowering the city speed limit. Matteo has said he believes speed cameras are a revenue scam.

When he was on the council, Matteo’s predecessor James Oddo, who is now borough president, called for requiring an environmental review for new bike lanes. Hours after news broke of Tom Ryan’s death, Oddo took to Twitter to brag about upcoming road widenings and call for more such projects on Staten Island.


DOT: Drivers Injured 1,305 Pedestrians and Cyclists in July, and Killed Six

Killed by NYC drivers in July: Aron Aranbayev, Kevin Lopez, and Alberta Bagu.

Killed by NYC drivers in July: Aron Aranbayev, Kevin Lopez, and Alberta Bagu.

Editors’ note: Beginning with July, we are basing our monthly fatality and injury data posts on DOT’s compilation of crash data instead of NYPD’s. DOT data gives a more complete picture of citywide injuries, though accounting of fatalities may be delayed in cases where the victim died days or weeks after the crash. Known discrepancies will be noted.

Eighteen people died in New York City traffic in July, and 4,911 were injured, according to DOT’s Vision Zero View crash data map.

As of the end of July, DOT reported 71 pedestrians and cyclists killed by city motorists this year, and 7,815 injured, compared to 82 deaths and 8,407 injuries for the same period in 2014.

Citywide, at least six pedestrians and three cyclists were fatally struck by drivers. Among the victims were Marcia Arthurs, Alberta Bagu, Alejandro Moran-Marin, Ka Chor Yau, Aron Aranbayev, Robert Kunz, Kevin Lopez, David Rodriguez, and an unnamed female pedestrian in Brooklyn. Motorists killed at least one senior in July: Ka Chor Yau, 83.

Two cyclists who were struck in July and died of their injuries in August are not included in DOT’s July data. Aronbayev, who police say was intentionally struck, also is not accounted for.

Across the city, 720 pedestrians and 585 cyclists were reported hurt in collisions with motor vehicles. Per NYPD policy, few of these crashes were investigated by trained officers.

Of nine fatal crashes on surface streets reported by Streetsblog and other outlets, one motorist was known to have been charged for causing a death. Charles Jordan was charged with murder in the crash that killed Aron Aranbayev.

Based on NYPD and media accounts, at least three 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 none of those crashes.

Marcia Arthurs was on the sidewalk when she was hit. The man who killed Alejandro Moran-Marin injured several other people. The driver of a private sanitation truck ran over Alberta Bagu, who was using a walker, and left the scene. NYPD and Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson filed no charges in any of those cases.

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, immediately after a pedestrian was killed, police exonerated the driver by telling the press the victim was not in a crosswalk.

Twelve motor vehicle occupants died in the city in July, according to DOT, and 3,606 were injured.


No Charges for Driver Who Killed Jadann Williams, 8, on Flatbush Cul-de-Sac

Eight year-old Jadann Williams, who neighbors say loved sports and wanted to become a basketball star, was playing on a dead-end street just steps from her Flatbush home yesterday afternoon when a driver struck and killed her.

Jadann Williams. Photo via WABC

Jadann Williams. Photo via WABC

Police say Williams was playing near the back end of a double-parked box truck on the east side of E. 22nd Street just north of Ditmas Avenue at 5:10 p.m. yesterday afternoon. The driver of a southbound Toyota SUV struck her when she stepped further out into the narrow two-way street. Williams suffered severe head trauma and died at Kings County Hospital.

“He tried to press the brake, but went 15 to 20 feet before he stopped,” volunteer NYPD clergy liaison Mohammad Nasir, 53, told the Daily News. The News identified the driver as 35-year-old Reginald Auguste and reported that he “lived on the block and was known for having a lead foot.”

“The guy was a known speeder,” a witness told the Daily News. “You know the children are present. You have to drive at a decent speed.”

The driver does not face any charges. The investigation by the Collision Investigation Squad is ongoing.

Neighbors say speeding is a regular problem on the street, despite the regular presence of children playing. “We’ve been asking for a speed bump on this block, and this is what it has come to?” neighbor and family friend Tanisha Brown told WNBC.

While the driver wasn’t arrested, someone else was: Ryan Romans, 25, of Staten Island — who knew Williams, according to the Daily News — punched the driver after the collision. He was tackled to the ground by police and charged with assault.

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No Charges for Driver Who Killed Sheepshead Bay Woman in Crosswalk

The red arrow indicates the approximate path of Carol Carboni, and the white arrow indicates the approximate path of the 33-year-old driver who killed her in the crosswalk at Avenue Z and Nostrand Avenue. Photo: Google Maps

The white arrow indicates the approximate path of Carol Carboni, and the red arrow indicates the approximate path of the 33-year-old driver who killed her in the crosswalk at Avenue Z and Nostrand Avenue. Photo: Google Maps

NYPD has not filed charges against the driver who killed a Sheepshead Bay woman in the crosswalk just blocks from her home yesterday afternoon.

Carol Carboni, 52, was crossing Nostrand Avenue from west to east at 3:35 p.m. yesterday when the driver of a 2013 Infiniti sedan, making a left turn from eastbound Avenue Z to northbound Nostrand, struck the rear right side of her mobility scooter with his front passenger-side bumper. Carboni fell off the scooter and suffered severe head trauma, NYPD said. She was taken to Lutheran Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

This case seems to be a likely candidate for Right of Way charges against the driver. The fact that Carboni was in the crosswalk and the driver was making a left turn at the same time indicate that Carboni likely had the right of way.

NYPD told Streetsblog this morning that it did not have information available about what the traffic signals indicated or who had the right of way at the time of the crash. The Collision Investigation Squad continues to investigate the crash, NYPD said, and no charges have been filed against the 33-year-old Brooklyn resident who was behind the wheel.

In the year since the Right of Way Law took effect, NYPD has rarely charged drivers who strike pedestrians or cyclists with the right of way.

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