Student Killed on Ninth Ave. Is Fourth City Pedestrian Fatality in Five Days

sethkahn.jpgSeth Kahn, pictured here with late TV pitchman Billy Mays. Photo via Facebook

Ninth Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen was the site of another pedestrian death Wednesday. Around 8:44 a.m., Seth Kahn was crossing Ninth at W. 53rd Street when he was hit by an out-of-service bus. He died a short time later at Roosevelt Hospital. Kahn, a 22-year-old from Westchester, was a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Inevitably, some media reports portray Kahn, who was in the crosswalk, as trying to beat the light, while making less of the fact that the bus driver, turning left from 53rd, must have also rushed into the intersection. The driver was not charged.

Despite the constant presence of pedestrians, Ninth Avenue is a notoriously dangerous place for people to walk. The quotes have been removed from the story now, but a local resident told NY1 (via Gothamist): "That particular corner always has some accidents. All the cars travel very fast and there’s too many buses using 53rd Street and they don’t even look for pedestrians."

Kahn was the fourth known pedestrian to die in the city in less than a week. On Tuesday a corrections officer with a suspended license hit Dorothea Wallace of Prospect Heights as she walked to work. Luis Rivera of the Bronx was struck and killed by a city bus driver on Halloween after he reportedly threw something at the bus’ windshield. And last Friday, off-duty NYPD detective Kevin Spellman ran down 67-year-old Drana Nikac as she crossed a street in Kingsbridge.

  • Glenn

    Everyone needs to read the comments section underneath that Daily News artile that blames the victim. It starts with this:

    I am Seth’s roommate and I was appalled when I found this article. We are dealing with a lot of grief-stricken friends and family. This article only makes it worse. Do you read these articles or consider the impact before publishing them? It is grotesque and publishing it is reprehensible. You have a responsibility to publish the truth, but you are also responsible for how you report it. Please re-write this article so that it is more tasteful and considerate. Thank you.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/forums/thread.jspa?threadID=77326

    Comments from family and people at the scene make for one of the most complete pictures of this tragedy than most newspapers ever publish.

  • Thanks Glenn. I admit I could not bear to wade into the DN comment cesspool on this one.

  • Imagine that a mad strangler killed four New Yorkers in five days. Imagine the outcry that would come from the tabloids and TV stations. Instead, the media fail to connect the dots and the slaughter will go on and on.

  • Forgive the double posting, but I just caught with those Daily News comments, and wow. One says it’s wrong for pedestrians to be in the crosswalk during a flashing-don’t-walk phase. Another says the death was not the driver’s fault — even though he failed to yield to a pedestrian and killed him! This is windshield perspective at its most extreme, at the point where it morphs from a merely blinkered viewpoint into a profound ignorance of the law and a true disregard for the value of human life.

  • Mainstream The MS media coverage of these killings is appalling. All we can expect from the Daily News is that they’ll publish some obnoxious “served him right” drivel anonymously, and cover the death from a human interest angle, and that’s it. Once upon a time journalists would conduct their own investigations in matters of public interest, but I guess killing this wonderful young man doesn’t make the cut.

    I’ve put in a FOIL request to NYPD on this, and will post the witness statements and police investigative reports to the corresponding blog entry when they arrive.

    It takes about 45 minutes to make one of these requests, including the trip to the post office. I hope others will make requests on the other three deaths.

  • Forgive my double posting as well, but traffic that is turning is supposed to yield to traffic that is going straight, motorists must yield to pedestrians with the right of way in the crosswalk, and motorists must generally exercise due care to avoid striking a pedestrian even if the pesdestrian does not have the right of way. That’s three separate traffic violations just on the meagre facts of the Daily News report alone! And no consequences for the driver?

  • Josh

    Oh god, I just tried to read through those comments and it’s absolutely sickening.

  • drewo

    Mark Walker, #4, is spot on. We are supposed to expect (and accept) this kind of carnage as part and parcel of living in Car Culture. I imagine that this kind of supposition was in place in the early days of the Industrial Revolution, when folks would be killed or maimed by heavy machinery.

  • drewo

    And I was referring to Mark’s #3 comment.

  • Pat

    Do you people actually believe that a NY City bus driver has no regard for human life? Or that he or she would jeopardize their own peace of mind, livelihood, career, etc… by purposely driving irresponsibly? Don’t pedestrians in the street have a responsibility to themselves to be alert and take care in a busy intersection? There are several versions of what happened going around. Witnesses say the young man was running, trying to “beat the bus”. One of the comments above says the driver “failed to yield”. How do you make a statement like that? Were you there? What is wrong with you people? Why must blame be thrown around as if you were there and know exactly what took place? What happened is a tragedy for everyone involved. It was an ACCIDENT. The driver has a niece who is the same age and is a student in the city. He is a wonderful person and a devoted family man. He and all of his family are devastated beyond words at the loss of this young mans life, and of the ramifications of this horrible ACCIDENT. God help you people who sit in judgement of others. And be very thankful if something so terrible, that is out of your control, never happens to you.

  • Pat, I don’t think anyone is saying that the driver intentionally hit Seth. And it is unclear what the exact circumstances were, but loosely based on the usual poorly written media account, it sounds like the driver and Seth both had the light. If that’s the case and the driver was turning, then the responsibility is on the driver to yield to the pedestrian. Again, there may be other facts that surface that mitigate this, but that remains to be seen. Running in a crosswalk is not jaywalking…I have to run to get out of the way of inattentive drivers turning into crosswalks all the time.

    What concerns me and many of us on this blog is that traffic deaths like this are typically not investigated and even in cases where the driver was proven to be negligent, inattentive or fail to yield properly, there are no major consequences to the driver in their job, license or jail time. And without consequences for inattentive driving and failing to yield, it will continue to be the norm on the streets.

    Again, this case may truly be that this was out of the driver’s control, but this can serve as a lesson to all drivers (myself included) to be more attentive when turning in crosswalks.

  • Pat, no one wants to rush to judgment before all the facts are in, and no one is saying there was any intention to hurt anybody. But it’s precisely because so many people, like you, have a compulsion to label this an “accident,” blithely conclude that “accidents happen,” and urge us all to “get over it” without giving as much as a nanosecond of thought as to whether this tragedy reflects conduct or street design that should should be evaluated and changed, that the facts of deaths like this often do not come to light. The facts as reported thus far indicate that one or more traffic violations were committed by the bus driver. We’ll see how much additionial information come out form the mainstream media. My guess is, none. Six or more months from now, NYPD will open its records of the investigation, which may finally enable people to reach an informed judgment.

    As for the impossbility of a bus driver behaving irresponsibly, if the captain of a city ferry carrying 1,000 passengers can negligently kill 11 of them is it really so hard to believe that a city bus driver could kill someone negligently?

  • There’s no logical fallacy here, Pat. One can both have no intention of committing harm, yet act so irresponsibly as to nigh-guarantee harm.

    This is why we have jail.

  • “That particular corner always has some accidents.”

    If that’s the case, then they’re not accidents. Is there a plan to extend the Ninth Avenue bike lane northward?

  • manhattan speed limit 20 mph.

  • drewo

    Pat (#10), often in these incidents, the word “accident” might be replaced with a more accurate description – such as “carelessness” or “negligence”.

    We cannot just keep dismissing these incidents as only accidents.

  • JSD

    I graduated with Seth from the University of Delaware in 2008. I never knew him personally, but I have many friends that were very close with him.

    This is terribly, terribly sad. The carelessness with which some people talk about the tragic death of another is beyond depressing.

    I really feel for his family and friends.

  • One more eyewitness account on Seth’s death from the DN comment thread:

    9:30 PM
    Nov 5, 2009
    For all concerned, I was driving the car behind the bus. There was no rushing to beat the light. The light had just turned green. The vehicles were moving slowly. The “Don’t Walk” sign, if flashing, had just started. This was a horrible accident and I can not find someone to blame. I wish there was something I could have done for Seth, but all we could do was stop traffic on 9th Avenue.

    evidiot
    7:57 AM
    Nov 6, 2009
    driver: So, if the pedestrian had the right of way, and the bus was turning into him, how is it “nobody’s fault?” The law clearly states that drivers must yield right-of-way to pedestrians in a crosswalk. If that didn’t happen, the bus driver should be charged, at the very least, for failing to yield.

    It is so frustrating that people dismiss INCIDENTS like this as ACCIDENTS. Clearly, there is no INTENT to kill on the part of the driver. But should be CONSEQUENCES to violating the LAW that results in someone’s death. Maybe jail-time, maybe loss of license, maybe civil financial penalties to the person or organization they represent.

  • HopE KAPLOWITZ

    I couldn’t believe that Seth Kahn died, he is 22 years old, I knew him practically all his life,I
    know his parents and grandparents, and there relatives. The bus company should do something, like give all bus drivers, alchol drugs, and then take away there cell phones,
    so that they can’t text, they have to be aware of there surroundings. I don’t care if he or she is 22 or 102 they have to be aware of there surroundings. and be a ware of people.
    crossing or waiting. thank you.

  • Michael J Galluzzi Esq.

    My client, a 72 year old resident of West 52nd Street was crossing 11th Avenue , in the cross walk with the light, when an Atlantic City tour bus making a right turn to head south on 11th Avenue ran over his foot. My client has undergone 3 surgeries to his foot to amputate four of his crushed toes. He is still hospitalized and it is likely he will lose the foot. THIS INCIDENT OCCURRED ON DECEMBER 9 2009, WEDNESDAY, AT APPROX 6PM–WE ARE INVESTIGATING ALL CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THIS INCIDENT AND ARE HOPING TO FIND SOME WITNESSES WHO WERE PRESENT AT THE TIME OF THE INCIDENT OR SHORTLY THEREAFTER-OR ANYONE WHO HAS ANY RELEVANT INFORMATION-PLEASE CONTACT ME DIRECTLY–MICHAEL J GALLUZZI 212 964 9640

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