Two Staten Island Pedestrians Killed in Four Days; One Driver Charged

Two pedestrians were killed by drivers in Staten Island in separate incidents last week. Despite indications that both deaths were caused by careless driving — one motorist struck an elderly man while making a left turn, the other jumped a curb and slammed into a man waiting for a bus — only the driver involved in the latter crash faces charges, according to reports.

On Thursday, as Nathan Pakow, 47, waited for a bus at the intersection of Seaview Avenue and Capodanno Boulevard in the Ocean Breeze area, an out-of-control car driven by 19-year-old Joseph Catrama came up onto the sidewalk, pinning Pakow against a metal pole. Pakow was later pronounced dead at Staten Island University Hospital.

Catrama, a licensed driver for a little over a month, was suspected of speeding at the time of the crash. Police initially let him go, but a short time later a charge of criminally negligent homicide was issued, and Catrama surrendered to authorities.

Last Monday, 84-year-old World War II veteran Howard Adrian was hit by an SUV driver turning left at the intersection of Burgher Avenue and Hylan Boulevard in Dongan Hills. Adrian died Monday evening. A quote from the driver seems to paint the victim as the culpable party.

About two dozen relatives crowded the waiting room of
Staten Island University Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit
in Ocean Breeze … some sobbing, others raging
against the driver who hit him.

That man, Michael Pierre of Castleton Corners, said he had
just pulled out of the parking lot of the TD Bank on the
corner; he made the left, he said, after the two cars ahead
of him started moving.

"He [Adrian] tried to rush, you know, to cross the
street," Pierre said.

No charges had been filed against Pierre as of last week, as Adrian’s relatives and neighbors continue to grapple with the most basic of questions.

Alex Harris, who lived in the apartment above Adrian on
Delaware Avenue, wondered why the driver didn’t stop
for Adrian as he crossed.

"Why wouldn’t you slow down? You’re not
speeding to make a left turn," he said.

  • This sort of thing happens all the time on Staten Island. To think, at one time, Staten Island was a rail based region, with individual communities and legitimate town centers. The borough is a perfect case study for the failure of auto based planning.

  • Saturday night I had drinks with a friend who works at the Brooklyn DA’s office. A discussion of other types of crimes evolved into one about the feasibility of bringing criminally negligent homicide charges in car-on-ped deaths where they’re warranted (talking about the Chinatown van tragedy as an example). The impression I was left with is that it’s a tremendously difficult charge to make stick, and that the various DA offices in NYC are all overworked and understaffed, and that they’re thus often not brought out of a desire to use resources efficiently rather than out of any sort of institutional tolerance towards unsafe driving.

  • Kaja Geis

    Doesn’t that mean that ‘unsafe driving’ (you mean criminally negligent homicide) is institutionally tolerated because making the charge stick is resource-inefficient?

    You’ve offered an explanation, but it’s hardly exculpatory. This is their job.

    I don’t get to not do things my clients pay me for because they’re too hard. I work fifty-five hours a week. If this government isn’t gonna do it, can I get a government that will?

  • I hear it’s tremendously difficult to make charges stick against the mafia too. I guess the DA’s office should just give up.

    Thanks for passing that info on, Josh.