The death of Aileen McKay-Dalton, a mother of three who was struck and killed by an SUV driver while riding her Vespa earlier this month, has galvanized friends, neighbors, and Fort Greene residents trying to make sense of their sudden loss and the anemic NYPD response that followed.
In the late afternoon on Thursday, July 8, McKay-Dalton was traveling west on DeKalb Avenue when she was struck and killed by the driver of a Ford Explorer traveling north on Clinton Avenue. While witness accounts relayed online and in the press indicate that the SUV driver, who remains unidentified, may have been speeding and running a red light, the NYPD has declined to file charges.
Police told the Daily News that no one witnessed the crash, but at a vigil held for McKay-Dalton last week, the driver who was trailing the SUV said the NYPD simply didn’t seek out accounts that would help determine culpability:
One witness to the crash spoke at the vigil. Tara Simoncic, who was
driving behind the Ford Explorer at the time of the collision, said, "In my opinion, the police were not receptive" to her and other
witnesses on the scene. She says that after approaching a police
officer and asking if he wanted her to stay and give her account of the
accident, he replied, "I have more important things to worry about
right now. If you want to go, go. If you want to stay, stay."
A police spokesperson said that the crash was investigated by
officers, including some from the Accident Investigation Squad, which
responds to serious accidents.
So far, more than 300 people have signed a petition organized by Council Member Tish James urging the mayor and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to re-open the case. The office of Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes has opened its own crash investigation, which may seek to answer whether and why the NYPD failed to follow up with witnesses.
Some speculation about the lackluster investigation has hinged on the identity of the driver, whose vehicle was registered to the Treasury Department, according to the Daily News. But regardless of the driver’s identity, the NYPD response to this crash fits a well-established pattern: As Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White noted at last week’s vigil, 71 percent of fatal crashes and 60 percent of crashes that cause injuries involve moving violations, according to state DMV data, but sober motorists who stay at the scene rarely face charges, even when their actions destroy lives.
Nearly 300 New Yorkers are killed and more than 70,000 are injured by car collisions every year. Traffic is the number one risk of injury-related death for city children. And yet, we are served by a police force that, through its enforcement of traffic laws, operation of its own motor vehicles, and investigations into automobile crashes, displays a habitual disregard for the lethal consequences of reckless and negligent driving.