Another Pedestrian Dies, Another Killer Driver Walks

cf7.jpgJoAnne Hayden-Weissman, center, was killed by a curb-jumping driver in Queens on April 16.

The words never fail to shock.

Last Thursday afternoon, 55-year-old JoAnne (Kodetsky) Hayden-Weissman was walking her dog on a path near Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel, Queens when a driver reportedly jumped the curb, striking both her and her pet. Hayden-Weissman, a popular dance instructor who founded the Western Steppers line dancing group, later died at Peninsula Hospital. Her dog was also killed, according to a commenter on the web site of the Daily News, which has the only coverage of the incident we’ve found.

Meanwhile, as residents bemoan Cross Bay Boulevard’s status as a speedway for reckless motorists:

The driver stayed at the scene and was not charged.

As we’ve learned from our interviews with Leslie Crocker Snyder and Maureen McCormick, prosecutors in New York State are often hamstrung when it comes to going after sober drivers who kill. When pedestrian deaths in the city are so commonplace that they barely merit a mention in local media, while certain prosecutors show no inclination to push for any punishment whatsoever even in the most high-profile cases of motorist negligence, it’s clearly going to take a lot more consciousness-raising over many more years for the words "the driver was not charged" to become the exception, rather than the rule.

Not that it can’t happen: As McCormick points out, until MADD came along, drunk drivers were given the same societal free pass as careless, but no less deadly, drivers enjoy today.

  • “The driver stayed at the scene and was not charged.”

    Just as important in my view:

    The driver will remain licensed and free to drive again.

  • If one were using another piece of heavy equipment, like, say, a chain saw, and accidentally cut someone in half as she was passing by one’s yard, I think there’s a pretty good chance one would be charged with something, no?

  • oscarfrye

    unbelievable

    do we need to start an organization?

    HARD – Humans Against Reckless Driving

  • Glenn

    I don’t even understand how people get cleared so quickly. Instead of “not charged”, which sounds like “Total Exoneration” there should be “pending investigation” or at least “it’s unclear if charges will be filed”.

    I think we need a separate court for auto crashes that result in death or serious injury that is linked to the DMV with a full range of civil, criminal and license administrative penalties. Call it Car Court.

  • John

    In this country, the right to drive is considered more important than the right to live.

  • Albert

    <>

    Important point, Glenn. It’s truly odd (to say the least) that these “accidents” always seem to get resolved so quickly, as if a judge, jury and instant replay camera have been quickly dispatched to the scene.

  • fdr

    The judges in “car court” will be appointed by the politicians, or elected in uncontested elections. Not something to look forward to.

  • The driver will remain licensed and free to drive again.

    Exactly. We can argue about whether to charge these people with some sort of crime (what?), but at a bare minimum you would think society would not allow such people to drive again.

    Personally, I’m not so quick to label these cases as crimes, except when the driver did something really stupid, like left his vehicle running and walked away.

    The best you can hope for is MUCH stricter licensing and enforcement of said licensing.

  • John,

    That quote is something I’ll have to remember.

    Still I do not feel comfortable passing judgment on driver not know any facts even though I have my doubts about the drivers innocence.

  • zach

    Mothers Against Deadly Drivers. It could be an umbrella organization that takes the already established MADD network and widens its vision to include all drivers who kill from behind the wheel, whether the contributing factor is alcohol, meth, cell phone, or trying to find that lost pack of gum under the passenger seat.

  • “Mothers Against Deadly Drivers. It could be an umbrella organization that takes the already established MADD network and widens its vision to include all drivers who kill from behind the wheel, whether the contributing factor is alcohol, meth, cell phone, or trying to find that lost pack of gum under the passenger seat.”

    Or just plain old incompetence.

  • Eileen

    How about if there were mandatory impoundment of a vehicle involved in a crash, as possible evidence of a crime or for civil liability purposes? The vehicle could be held for enough time to allow the police, as well as the driver and pedestrian (or bicyclist), and insurers (if any), to have the vehicle examined before the driver has the chance to remove evidence. Plus the added benefit of the driver hopefully not having anything to drive.

  • I \v/ NY

    kill someone with a gun… get life in prison or death
    kill someone with a car… nothing.

    someone needs to pass this on to the NRA, it seems guns are at a disadvantage.

  • Kaja

    Ladies and Gentlemen, the Streetsblog commentariat, where you’re a criminal the instant you get behind the wheel, and deserve your property’s seizure for evidence searches.

    Eileen: Does driving, period, make you suspect of a crime?

  • Kaja

    Oh man, how’d I open this thread? I didn’t check the dates before posting, either. Apologies for the article necromancy! (Eileen you’re still crazy!)

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