Bus Driver Who Killed Queens Girl Had Checkered Driving Record

jasmine.jpgPhoto: Dima Gavrysh/New York Times

Her name was Jasmine Paragas. According to reports, she was a 14-year-old freshman, an honors student, at Francis Lewis High School in Queens. She came to the US from the Philippines with her parents and younger brother, who is now 10, about six years ago.

Jasmine was afraid of Queens Boulevard, so her mother routinely crossed the street with her in the morning before school. Yesterday, after the two successfully negotiated the "Boulevard of Death," Jasmine’s mom left her daughter to catch the Q88 while she made her way to the train for work. Minutes later, at 8:10 a.m., Jasmine was struck by a school bus while crossing 57th Avenue at 90th Street. Suffering severe head wounds, she was taken to Elmhurst Medical Center. Jasmine was pronounced dead at 8:54 a.m.

The driver of the bus was George Severino, 62, of Brooklyn, an employee of the JEA Bus Company. Severino was reportedly driving north on 90th Street when he made a left-hand turn onto 57th Avenue, hitting Jasmine, who was in the crosswalk. According to the Daily News, "Severino said he heard a thump, checked the rearview mirror and saw the girl lying in the street."

Checking a map of the intersection, 90th Street is one-way northbound at 57th Avenue. So Severino need not have been looking for oncoming traffic when he made the turn. If he had the signal, presumably so did Jasmine, as there don’t appear to be any "push to cross" buttons. This version seems to jibe with police findings, as Severino was issued a summons for failure to yield to a pedestrian. Apparently, he just didn’t notice Jasmine in his path until he "heard a thump."

jasmine2.jpgPhoto: Dima Gavrysh/New York Times

Again, the Daily News:

According to motor vehicle records, Severino was in an accident where someone was injured in Brooklyn in January 2006 and was convicted of changing lanes unsafely in June 2007.

Despite his previous record, since he was not intoxicated and stayed at the scene, at this point Severino faces no criminal charges. It’s likely, in this case at least, that he never will.

Severino was reported to be weeping at the scene. His sorrow won’t bring Jasmine Paragas back. But for police, prosecutors and lawmakers, it will almost certainly be punishment enough.

  • Ace

    Is my interpretation correct, in that the drive had a green light and made one of those sweeping turns at speed through the crosswalk at an intersection?

    As a pedestrian I am forced to share the crosswalk with moving automobiles several times a day. Would it be possible to require drivers to come to a complete stop before they turn?

  • J. Mork

    Heartbreaking.

    When, oh when, will failure to yield that results in a death be considered murder or at least manslaughter?

  • Why don’t they let traffic go in each direction and then make all traffic in all directions stop and let all of the pedestrians go? That way, there should never be a time when both pedestrians and cars are in the street at the same time (assuming everyone follows the rules). Don’t they already do this in come places?

  • Irene Chen

    ive been over there many times, such a busy block too because it is a very commerical area. tons of traffic all the time and crazy fast drivers. its such a tragedy. gotta drive safely people!

  • Your Friend

    you don’t deserve this.
    we love you.
    i’ll miss you.

  • Scott

    What a tragedy. Areas near schools are always incredibly dangerous for the pedestrian, especially the smaller ones. As a full time pedestrian I could not agree more with Sean. Busy intersections occasionally are planed well enough to allow pedestrians to cross from all sides. This is so much more pleasurable for a pedestrian than traditional crossings, and you can cross diagonally. I think that any intersection with large number of pedestrians on it should be set up like that at the peak pedestrian times. Also an intersection that is on a school route should by default be a 4 way stop or have a light that will protect the pedestrian. We should be careful not to vilify people before all the facts are in, but we can also protect ourselves from guilty people getting off for lack of evidence if we regulate our intersections better. That being said, there really is no way to get back the life we lost and my deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends.

  • Michael1

    “As a pedestrian I am forced to share the crosswalk with moving automobiles several times a day. Would it be possible to require drivers to come to a complete stop before they turn?”

    To Ace: New York State Law: A motorist must yield to a pedestrian always, even if the pedestrian doesn’t have legal right-of-way. That’s the law but that doesn’t mean you can cross wherever you feel like. A motorist has to come to a complete stop if there are pedestrians in the crosswalk. It’s a very simple law and you would be surprised how many motorists don’t heed it. Example: I was crossing W 145th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue and some van starts honking when I’m crossing. He yells some jibberish at me that I can’t understand. Well, since I still had the right, I rightfully showed him my middle finger.

    To Sean Robertson: In especially risky intersections of New York City, ie: parts of Queens Blvd in Sunnyside, pedestrians are given leading pedestrian intervals which have peds a clear go before the cars do. In complex intersections like Northern Bl/Broadway or Atlantic/4th, pedestrians are given a dedicated crossing cycle where all traffic stops. The DOT doesn’t do that everywhere because that would disturb the flow of traffic, which they have to worry about too. Plus, it isn’t needed everywhere, only in high-density pedestrian places.

  • Yes, a motorist has to come to a complete stop if there are pedestrians in the crosswalk — a law that drivers adhere to about as much as they do the speed limit. Maybe if we had more cops enforcing that instead of writing tickets to cyclists for petty nonsense, we could start to change driver behavior — and preserve a few more lives.

  • Oh my god the student in my class got killed that’s frightning
    the bus driver got watch he drives way too fast
    and mmm not acceptable and i know her name is jasmine in my high leveel class

  • Andrew

    I am a strong supporter of streetsblog and its mission. I live near this intersection – this is an incredibly crazy intersection between two of the largest shopping malls in the region, Queens Boulevard, a high school, and various other inputs.

    We shouldn’t blame the driver, there are so many distractions and things happening on all sides it is a miracle more people aren’t killed here. It is, once again, our transportation system, our DOT, our protections of intersections where pedestrians and cyclists face giant trucks, which is to blame. Anyone reading this blog knows this intuitively.

    Iris Weinshall said her proudest achievement was altering the crossing patterns along Queens Boulevard allowing more time for pedestrians to cross. It’s still the Boulevard of Death because it is still 8+ lanes of traffic going up to sixty miles an hour. God forbid if you’re in the way.

  • jason

    I am her firend it sad to hear that she die it almost made me cry i am 14 years old and i went to same school as her in mid school it heartbreaking to see that Jasmine die.

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