To NYPD, Anyone Outside a Car Is Asking for It

pslope1.jpgThe following is an eyewitness account from a tipster who came upon the aftermath of Monday’s driver-pedestrian collision on Carroll Street and Eighth Avenue in Park Slope. The victim, a 57-year-old man, was in critical condition Monday afternoon, and police have no new information as of this writing. NYPD would not release a name. At the time, our tipster was told the victim had died shortly after the collision.

I came upon the scene around 11:30, and it was still taped off. There was an SUV parked haphazardly on the corner, and its windshield had obviously seen the impact of a human head. I thought it must have been a cyclist: the hood was creased, showing the ascent to the windshield, and the glass had a perfectly concave depression where the head hit.

I asked a detective taking pictures if a cyclist had been hit, and he said no. Then a youngish couple walked over to the car. You could tell by their attitude that they were somehow involved. I asked them, "Is everybody okay?" The man wouldn’t make eye contact, and the woman gave me a frozen, tight smile and walked on. I soon learned they were the driver and passenger, and I was told that an old man was hit by them in the intersection. Now, how fast do you have to be going to hit a stationary object that it nearly goes through your windshield? (There was, in fact, an open crescent in the glass.)

I hung around and tried to figure out how it happened. The investigation seemed pretty involved; many 78th Precinct cops and detectives. I asked a beat cop there if the driver would be charged with homicide. "The only way is if the driver is intoxicated," he said. I made a disapproving snort. Then he said out of nowhere, "You see the cyclists around here? They all run red lights all the time. Run right through them."

What I didn’t say was, "What the fuck does that have to do with vehicular manslaughter?"

Other than NY1 coverage from Monday, Streetsblog can find no media reports of this collision. If anyone knows of others, please link from comments.

  • There needs to be a major public awareness campaign around auto-pedestrian fatalities.

  • bb

    Genocide and the civil war. Looks like we are going to loose since we kill so few.

    Kill someone and you get a traffic ticket… Step right up.

  • John

    If you ever need a license to hurt and kill. And get away with it. Just apply for drivers license at any of the DMV office.

  • It’s as we have hundreds of thousands of 00 agents in the city.

  • Rhywun
  • How about quoting the tipster’s quote of the detective as you write to:

    Deputy Inspector John A. Argenziano
    78th Precinct
    65 6th Avenue
    Brooklyn, NY, 11217

    Community Affairs: (718) 636-6410

    The 78th Precinct Community Council meets the last Tuesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. at the 78th Precinct station house.

    The tipster is right: you have to be going pretty fast for a human head to actually puncture your windshield.

    Let the COURTS presume innocence until proven guilty. Not cops.

    If there’s compelling evidence that possibly criminally high speed contributed to a pedestrian being hit, cops and DAs should actively pursue charges, for #@$ sake. Let the court system protect the accused. Cops and DAs should try to, you know, “protect” the rest of us.

  • ocm123

    I send my condolences to the family.

    How can you conclude that the driver should be charged with homicide when you don’t even know what happen? I know, from a mistake I made as a pedestrian at the age of 12, that the driver is not always at fault in these types in these types of accidents.

    The bottom line is we don’t know what happen so let’s not jump to conclusions.

  • Good suggestion, ddartley.

    This is heartbreaking. Jumping a subway turnstile gets you in more trouble in this city than killing a person with your car.

  • ocm123 — the point is that it’s a matter for the courts to decide. The fact that the windshield was punctured by a pedestrian’s head is surely enough evidence that the driver was speeding, and that a charge is in order.

  • ocm123, I’m not talking about acquitting or convicting. I’m talking about the decision on whether to prosecute in the first place.

    With other possible crimes, cops and DAs can be plenty aggressive in pursuing charges, which may very well get dismissed, or not lead to a conviction.

    It’s just that all too often when a car is involved, cops and DAs (and in fact, our whole society) are too quick to see motorists’ behavior as unassailable, when in analagous non-car situations, they’d be way more likely to press charges. And again, let the court make the final decision on guilt or innocence. But cops and DAs should be taking the first step much more often than they do.

    Certainly, if cops responded to what you were involved in when you were 12 and that driver was not charged, there

  • ignore that fragment at the end.

  • ocm123

    Again, we don’t know what happened. It appears from the picture and from another blog that the victim walked out from between two cars into the middle of the street. If this was the case and if the driver was only going 15-20 mph and did not see the victim because his view was blocked by a car or an SUV, it is possible he didn’t have time to stop. In other words, if the pedestrian did not look before coming out between two cars and jay-walking in the middle of the street, how can you say it was the driver’s fault?

    Secondly, before anyone can be charged there has to be evidence that the driver did something wrong. I hate for there to a precedent in any type case of someone being charged with a crime before there is any evidence.

  • ocm123

    I agree, that this should be investigated fully. I just don’t the driver should be charged before the investigation is complete.

  • Conrad

    We’re all in agreement: the driver is not to be convicted without evidence. But the cynical undercurrent here is this: We all know that drivers in this instance never get charged for anything — not vehicular manslaughter, not failure to yield. All we’re all talking about here is the absolutely SENSELESS loss of life or injury.

  • Conrad

    We’re all in agreement: the driver is not to be convicted without evidence. But the cynical undercurrent here is this: We all know that drivers in this instance never get charged with anything — not vehicular manslaughter, not failure to yield. All we’re all talking about here is the absolutely SENSELESS loss of life or injury.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    if the driver was only going 15-20 mph

    I don’t know exactly what happened. But I came upon the scene of that collision about 30 minutes after it happened. The head-shaped dent in the windshield strongly suggested that the vehicle was traveling substantially faster than 20 mph. How fast does a head have to hit a windshield to create a basketball-shaped divot and nearly penetrate the windshield? That’s how fast this vehicle was traveling. My guess is 35 mph, at least.

    I don’t know if you charge this driver with a misdemeanor or vehicular manslaughter. But at the very least the person who was driving the car should have their license revoked until a proper investigation has been done by an agency whose officers don’t sound like the one quoted above. The person who was driving this vehicle should not be back out on the street in a car today. Unfortunately he or she is. Just like the guy who killed the kids in Chinatown a couple of weeks ago. Just like virtually every other killer driver who didn’t happen to be drunk.

  • On the above subject, I’ma object to this:

    > Let the COURTS presume innocence until proven guilty. Not cops.

    Please god, no. Cops’ jobs is to maintain the public order, not arrest people regardless of reasonable suspicion.

    I got a litany of cop problems stuck in my craw, and none of them will be solved by cops being less reasonable about arrests.

  • ocm123 wrote:

    It appears from the picture and from another blog that the victim walked out from between two cars into the middle of the street.

    Nothing about that picture makes it appear that “the victim walked out from between two cars into the middle of the street.” It doesn’t reveal anything about where the collision occurred. And what other blog are you citing? The only other coverage I’ve seen is on Brownstoner, and I don’t believe anything posted there claimed the victim had emerged from between two cars. In fact, two posters who claim to have witnessed it said the man was hit in the crosswalk.

  • Soo… how about we wait for facts, and stop posting ’til then?

  • PULL THIS POST!!!

    This is probably one of the weakest and journalistically reckless things I’ve seen posted on Steetsblog in the 2 years I’ve been reading. I’m sorry but you make absolutely no point with the accusations made in this blog post. It’s all total speculation!

    Yes, there is a very good chance that the driver may have been driving in a way that was reckless towards pedestrians (ie. Speeding) but you have not a clue besides a photo and mere speculation. And yes, I agree that law enforcement’s attitude in pedestrian CRASHES is disgustingly flippant but that’s about it and there was no proof of that here! In fact just the opposite since you even state that the investigation appeared rather intense and thorough.

    Finally and most importantly the title is grotesquely misleading. I expected something at least remotely concrete to warrant such a bold title. Instead the police officer’s quote is not even remotely related. And guess what! Even though it was totally in appropriate for him to say and unrelated to the crash at hand, HE WAS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!!

    As a lifelong daily cyclists, 90% of cyclists I see on the road truely are “asking for it.” I’ve nearly hit, while riding my bike no less, countless numbers of cyclists who blew through red lights, were riding on the wrong side or riding without lights. I’ve also been nearly clobbered a quite a few times by passing neuvo-roadies riding their two-week-old carbon “road bikes of the month.”

    If you need someone who can write a story without making reckless accusations and actually has a legitimate education on these issues, I’m free.

  • Cops’ jobs is to maintain the public order, not arrest people regardless of reasonable suspicion.

    IANAL, but isn’t that crater in the windshield grounds for reasonable suspicion?

  • The implication is that because police look the other way when someone runs a red light on a bicycle or on foot, they must or should look the other way when someone does the same in a car—even if that action ends up killing others. That cavalier, muddled reasoning is wrong in every way that matters.

    As for automobile crash facts and waiting on them, under the old information hierarchy you would be waiting until you’re dead and buried. This post and thread are part of the new distributed order, in particular a public demand not to write off the lives lost to autos. It does good work, even if it’s messy and offensive to some sensibilities. I recall with the cyclist killed by a school bus in Brooklyn that we learned far more in the discussion than was ever reported, eventually determining that the man was run over when the bus turned right and into him, while newspapers had described the cyclist only as “trying to beat the light.” (If true, they both were and one was driving a freaking school bus.) Speculation is part of the process of unmanaged discovery; it comes a lot closer to the truth than white lies passed along by bored police-beat reporters.

  • Here’s the most recent post regarding this incident from Brownstoner:

    I was also in this intersection on the west side of 8th Ave – pedestrian was struck on the east / park side of the 8th Ave in the Carroll St crosswalk. This driver was FLYING up Carroll. Anyone who says sun glare is an issue…clearly we have all had this happen as drivers, however speed should be reduced if that’s the case. I would estimate he was going close to 50mph. He flew by me across 8th Ave…I did not hear brakes just the impact and there were no skid marks indicating any attempt to stop. If you saw it, you know how he was hit extraordinarily hard based on how high he flew in the air and forward away from the car. We all share the roads, pedestrians and drivers alike. Neither has more of a right to negligence. We all must take care to know our surroundings, but speed limits were clearly not abided by in this case. It was a horrific scene that could only be caused by excessive speed.

  • ocm123

    I not here to defend the driver, but I am curious to know if the pedestrian was jay-walking. Also, I don’t think the car necessarily had to have been going that fast for there to be a dent in a windshield; it doesn’t take much velocity for something that weights two hundred pounds to put a dent into glass.

    The bottom line is that this is a horrible tragedy, but I am not yet convinced that the driver’s life should be ruined over it. If it is eventually proven that the driver passed a red light or really was driving twenty mph over the speed limit then yes, at that point I would advocate his punishment.

    I don’t mean to be graphic, but the famous picture of a woman lying on a car after jumping off the Empire State Building shows just how much damage a person could inflict on a vehicle if there is enough velocity involved.
    http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2006/04/23/nyregion/thecity/scar450.jpg

  • ocm123

    Eric McClureocm123 wrote:

    Nothing about that picture makes it appear that “the victim walked out from between two cars into the middle of the street.” It doesn’t reveal anything about where the collision occurred. And what other blog are you citing?

    At the time, I was citing Brooklynian, who also had a thread about the accident. One of the people that blog said:
    [quote=”ericrochow”]a pedestrian crossing between cars on Carroll above 8th ave was hit by a car turning from 8th ave onto carroll .

    i’m told the driver of the car was visibly shaken. the car’s windshield was shattered. the police were there taking photos, etc for most of the day[/quote]

  • The roof of Empire is at 381 meters, so the jumper had a “velocity” of about 86 m/s or 192 mph when she dramatically caved in the roof of that vehicle. Maybe the Toyota was only going a hundred.

  • Give it up OCM, because a pedestrian jaywalks, or absentmindedly crosses the street or is hit while legally in a crosswalk, there is no reason they should die for their “mistake”. I live in the Slope, drivers FLY on these streets. If the car was going the speed limit this man may still be alive. If the speed limits in NYC were more sensible and pro pedestrian, that man may have walked away.

    You hit someone driving the speed limit you have still screwed up, you hit some one speeding? In my opinion you deserve no mercy. There is no excuse for this type of driving, perfect conditions or not, nor is there any excuse for your defending this selfish SUV drivers actions.

  • I have learned that the 57 year old man is my next door neighbor on 1st Street below 8th Ave. He commutes to work via the IRT. So he would have been walking north on 8th Ave at that time. I learned that he was walking with his daughter and the car was going up Carroll Street very fast. Apparently the car had the green light. Maybe talking with his daughter distracted him? He is in critical condition, but he is not dead.

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