Daily News Finally Finds Injustice in Pedestrian Fatalities

amd_turner.jpgOn average, a New York City pedestrian is killed by a car about every three days. It happened again on Friday, when six-year-old Clarente Turner (right) and his mother were hit by a runaway SUV as they stood in a median, holding hands, at Kings Highway and E. 95th St. in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. The child died at the scene; his mother was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

In the 18 months or so that I’ve worked for Streetsblog, I’ve read countless reports of pedestrian fatalities. The Daily News account of Clarente’s death may be the first to leave me physically shaking.

The badly injured mom screamed, "My baby! Oh, my baby!" as she
struggled to reach out to her only child lying nearby in a pool of
blood, witnesses said.

The crash brought people on the busy street running to help. "You could
see right away it was bad," said one man. "You could see he was going." …

"You know the last thing he said was, ‘Mommy, can I get something to eat?’ That was it and he was gone," the father said.

"My
son was very quiet and very smart. He liked to play, but he liked to
read too. He just started school. This is very bad for me and for all
of us. We can’t believe it."

A witness quoted by the News said the driver of the SUV was trying to make the light when she rammed another car, bounced off and spun into Shawna Spaulding and her little boy. Yet, as sure as the sun will soon rise to another story of another pedestrian death, there is the inevitable, unbelievable absolution of fault:

Police said they were investigating but did not believe the drivers broke any laws.

The News ran a follow up piece about angry residents demanding improvements at the intersection where Clarente died, but there were no articles questioning how a six-year-old child could be struck and killed by an out-of-control vehicle with no culpability. In all likelihood, there won’t be. If this story remains true to form, aside from a possible report on his funeral, the case of Clarente Turner’s death is now closed.

Also this weekend, the News published a story on a Brooklyn pedestrian who was struck by a cyclist and later died from her injuries. According to the News, 38-year-old Nasreem Hossain was hit on September 19 as she stood in the crosswalk on 12th Ave. at Dahill Road. Hossain hit her head on the pavement and never regained consciousness. Her family removed her from life support late last week.

alg_hossain_photograph.jpg

Police told Howlader Hossain (above) that no charges would be filed against the cyclist because his wife was crossing against the light at the time of the collision. Rather than take the PD’s word at face value — the de facto standard when a pedestrian dies at the hands of a motorist — the News for once injects an editorial voice into its pedestrian fatality reportage, beginning with the headline: "No justice for Brooklyn mother of two struck down by bicyclist." The story continues:

When a bicyclist slammed into mother-of-two Nasreem Hossain as she crossed a Brooklyn street, her husband trusted that the law was on their side. …

"There should be a severe punishment," said Howlader Hossain, 54, her husband. "This is not an accident. He could have moved out of the way." …

Nasreem Hossain stood in the crosswalk on 12th Ave. and Dahill Road, looking out for cars, but not bikes.

The cyclist ran right into her, knocking her to the road where she hit her head.

No justice. Trusted that the law was on their side. There should be severe punishment. This is not an accident. Ran right into her. This is how most pedestrian — and cyclist — fatalities deserve to be reported. Where is the outrage over Clarente Turner? Or Alexander Toulouse? Assam Naveed? Hope Miller? James Rice?

It seems the News, at least, only believes justice is warranted in the extremely rare instance when a pedestrian is dead and no cars are involved.

Photos: New York Daily News

  • Lola

    Please resurrect the Daily Carnage column. We still need it.

  • I couldn’t finish reading the article about Clarente Turner this morning and I can’t now. It has been making me feel insane all day long today. I feel homocidal towards motorists when I read about things like this. The driver was trying to make a light. Why couldn’t he have died instead of killing one innocent person and maiming another? I wish, I wish, I wish, that bad drivers only killed themselves.

  • Paul

    This may or may not be relevant, but why do New Yorkers have to stand in the street while waiting to cross? I saw a woman standing on the sidewalk while her child in a stroller were waiting off the sidewalk in the street with cars going by. That’s insane! Something really needs to be done to curb the motor traffic in New York, or anywhere. Right now. There’s no fucking excuse why we can’t have a good dedicated, safe cycle network and update the subway systems, build a tram network and turn some streets into meaningful space. We’re god damned sick of cars in the cities.

  • Boris

    Before I started to read this blog, I used to think that there are very serious consequences for the driver if a pedestrian is hit, even when it can be proved the driver did everything in his/her power to avoid the pedestrian. This line of thought just made sense in our world, where rule-breakers are rewarded and rule-followers are punished.

    Now I don’t know what to think. If there really are no consequences for drivers, why are drivers so careful? In many poor New York neighborhoods, pedestrians completely ignore cars- for example, starting to cross an intersection just as their light turns red, making cars wait, or crossing not at an intersection at night while bouncing a ball. I’m not justifying NYC’s abhorrent rate of pedestrian fatalities; I’m just saying that compared to many other cities and countries, NYC drivers are relatively careful and law-abiding, while NYC pedestrians are relatively ignorant of traffic and crossing regulations.

    Maybe if people are taught that cars (and bikes) are dangerous to pedestrians, they would be a) more careful and b) more supportive of measures that limit or separate vehicles from pedestrians.

  • Jaywalker

    Trying to make the light…how typical!

    Perhaps a suitable additional punishment would be to force the driver to put up the picture of the child he killed on the dashboard so that he sees it EVERY time he gets behind the wheel.

  • Are you NUTS, Boris!??? The poor kid was standing with his mother, waiting to cross the road! How exactly could they have been more careful?? By not walking in the street in the first place, maybe?? By being good little citizens and either staying home or giving in and joining the cult of the car??

    You know what? FUCK these idiots in their SUVs!! They need to be stopped. What kind of self-centered inhuman DUMP do we live in when you can’t even walk home from school in safety? These arseholes are running around like they own the place with absolutely no concern for anyone else. They can drive as irresponsibly as they like and take the lives of perfect young children with no fear of punishment. This cannot be allowed to continue.

  • Erin

    Nice response, Andy Trafford. We should all be as angry as you are, and I think it’s good to express this anger. People are dying all over the city, for no good reason. An individual New Yorker wants to get where he/she is going 60 seconds faster, and will stop at nothing to do it. As you say, they CANNOT be allowed to continue this. Our law enforcement clearly won’t help us; our justice department won’t help us. Who will?

  • Boris

    From what I could tell in Google Maps, standing in the median at that intersection is not a good idea. Creating a raised median would probably help (and minimize the number of cars who try to go straight from the left turn-only lane). A lower speed limit would continue to be ignored, as it does now.

  • Erin

    Oh, and for Boris:

    You wrote the following:
    “I’m not justifying NYC’s abhorrent rate of pedestrian fatalities; I’m just saying that compared to many other cities and countries, NYC drivers are relatively careful and law-abiding, while NYC pedestrians are relatively ignorant of traffic and crossing regulations.”

    What evidence do you have that NYC drivers are relatively careful and law-abiding? Because I’ve lived in a lot of cities (eight of them), and I have never until New York been in taxis flying down a downtown street at 50+ mph, nor have I been nearly hit as many times in what should be relatively quiet neighborhoods, nor have I ever before seen so many drivers stepping on the gas while holding down the horn because they just won’t stop for the red light, so you’d better get the FU*K out of their way!

    Show me some data. I’d bet a whole lot that you don’t have any data or evidence to support that (seemingly?) ridiculous claim. Thanks.

  • Boris, you’re out of your mind.

    “In many poor New York neighborhoods, pedestrians completely ignore cars- for example, starting to cross an intersection just as their light turns red, making cars wait, or crossing not at an intersection at night while bouncing a ball.”

    1. This is true in all kinds of neighborhoods. The sidewalks are crowded people jaywalk and stand in the street– it means the streets are too wide. I see it on the upper east side and I see it in Washington Heights.
    2. It may not be you intention, but it sounds like you’re trying to minimize these crimes and blame the victims simply because they are poor. I think that’s rotten.
    3. Even if this is true WHO CARES? It’s not any kind of excuse for anyone dying. I don’t care if a person is jaywalking blindfolded and backwards with six ipods on –it’s still wrong to hit them. It’s wrong on a bike and it’s even more wrong in a car. Whoever has the bigger vehicle should be at fault.

    I have been knocked off of my bike twice by a car– once in Shaker Heights OH, a wealthy suburb of Celeveland– the driver stopped and helped me up. Once in NYC, in east Harlem– that time it was a hit-and-run– they speed away and just left me there for dead. That’s not “careful” that’s inhuman. I want to be civil and all, but I think you must be living in some kind of fantasy world, Boris. And I think you’re a little prejudiced against “poor” people from “those kinds of neighborhoods.”

  • Boris

    Erin,

    In New York, nobody other than cabbies honks at pedestrians when they are crossing against the light. In Russia, where I’m originally from, some cars completely ignore traffic lights, so it pays to look both ways even when crossing on green. This also goes for Mexico and many other countries. In the USA, New York drivers are only the third-worst (after Boston and Miami). In Israel, as many people are hurt in car crashes every year as in all terrorist attacks together. There are probably more examples I can give you with a little research. But that’s not really the point I’m trying to make. My point is that if drivers really have “a license to kill”, they are pretty careful.

    Susan,

    I think it’s reasonable to assume that poor people are less likely to own a car and therefore know about traffic regulations. They are also more likely to go to bad schools and have parents who don’t teach them how to cross the street. But that doesn’t mean they should not be educated about crossing the street- in school, through some extracurricular city program, etc.

  • Capitalist

    “In New York, nobody other than cabbies honks at pedestrians when they are crossing against the light”

    Maybe you’ve never been honked at by a non-cab, but I suspect you’re in the minority. Granted, NY drivers may be less scary than those in some other parts of the world, but by Western-world standards, they’re pretty scary. The only thing stopping them from being more dangerous is gridlock.

    As to your points about jaywalking and other pedestrian misbehavior, I’ve been driving in NY for 20-odd years, and I’ve never hit anybody. Why? Because I assume that there will be someone jumping out in front of me or doing something else dangerous at all times and give myself enough time to compensate. I don’t regard the milliseconds I save by running a light or cutting a corner as being more valuable than someone else’s safety. Unfortunately, there are too many NY’ers who make the opposite valuation, which causes a lot of injury and death. Sure, it’s worse in a lot of other places, but that doesn’t excuse it here.

  • Boris,

    Stop blaming the victims. In this instance this woman and her son broke no rules. What on earth do your made-up stereotypes about how ‘poor people don’t know how to cross the street’ have to do with anything? Because they don’t drive? Are you kidding me? Why is it so hard for people like you to recognize a tragedy when you see one? Is your capacity for empathy somehow disabled by the fact that they *might* have been poor (you just assume this because of the neighborhood and their race right?) —

    Seriously, there is something really, really, really wrong when this kind of tragedy happens and the first thing that comes to mind is some kind of borderline social Darwinistic tripe about how “poor people play in traffic.”

    You don’t even know this woman or her son.

    So shut up.

  • Will

    I think its insane to say that New York drivers are more well behaved than elsewhere. Every day you see reckless speeding on crowded roads, drivers blocking the box and forcing pedestrians into unsafe space, drivers turning when pedestrians clearly have the right of way and countless other examples. Drivers seem to think that by virtue of being behind the wheel of a 2 ton piece of metal that they are somehow insulated from the world and their needs take priority. Its a kind of auto induced megalomania.

    We barely stop to question why anyone needs to be driving an anti-social, overly large monstrosity like an SUV or why they are driving at such a speed where they even could kill a pedestrian. Its just taken as their God given right and the natural order of things that cars should be big and drivers should get where they are going as fast as possible.

  • Boris, I have to agree with the people shouting you down. Your points are illogical and harmful.

    As for your argument about poor people, you want to hear something similar? It sounds typical of remarks made by Russian people I’ve known. How do you like that? The truth is, your statement did indeed remind me of statements I’ve heard from immigrants from the former USSR make. But I don’t try to conclude something based that limited experience (plus some imagination), the way you did. And yet, I’m sure, it sounds to you like pretty ugly thinking, doesn’t it? That’s ’cause it is.

    Funnily enough for this conversation, it’s Capitalist’s story about his driving history that I want to repeat to you, Boris: he drives as if expecting the unexpected, because he knows that his car vehicle kill. There’s no reason every driver shouldn’t think that way, and I think it would be good if society set as a goal (regardless of its real reachability) a state in which all drivers do.

  • alissaj

    I remember when i heard this story. I went to the same school as him, lots of crashes happened around that area on kings highway since there are two schools on that street. I pray for his parents and I really don’t know how his parents are handling this right now.

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