Hundreds of Neighbors Press NYPD for Justice for Slain Mother of Three

aileen_mckay_dalton.jpgAileen McKay-Dalton

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.

  • Sarah Eaton

    The NYPD must be strongly encouraged to better monitor and penalize moving violations. I live near Atlantic Avenue which is treated by motorists like a major highway. The number of speeding vehicles is shocking. The number of times my husband and I have feared for our children’s lives as cars go through stop signs, red lights, and whip around corners is shocking. There are more and more families, more bikes, more dogs every year — these are neighborhoods not highways and need to be treated as such. It does not seem to be a priority of the city. Frankly at this point I’d be in favor of speed bumps since signs and laws do not seem to work.

  • Jeffrey J. Early

    I’m really sorry to hear about Aileen McKay-Dalton.

    I moved from the Pacific Northwest to the Bronx about nine months ago and have found the car culture here to be sickening and scary. On the west coast and the cities in Germany where I lived, I never witnessed so many blatant traffic violations. I find it bizarre that a city dominant by pedestrians is ruled by drivers.

    The NYPD needs to help change the driving culture here, but they have to start by fixing their own driving habits. I watch the NYPD commit more traffic violations themselves than I’ve seen them enforce (my anecdotal observations should probably actually be skewed the other way given that I live across from a police station). Just last week a police officer failed to stop for me on a marked crosswalk. That would NEVER happen in the Pacific Northwest, and is exactly the kind of moving violation that leads to deaths. I can’t even count the number of blown stop lights and stop signs. I guess I’m more cynical having lived here nine months now too, because given the NYPDs diving habits, I’m not encouraged that they could even help change.

  • dporpentine

    True story: the only time my spouse or I have been pulled over by a cop in five years of driving in the city was when she drove her car through a green light.

    I swear: a green light.

    It was an unmarked police car full of cops who, without turning its lights on or anything, wanted to blow the red light they were waiting at but my spouse kept going–in part because there were a ton of cars behind her. And so once she passed they blew the light, pulled her over, and searched the car like crazy trying to find something wrong.

    I’m always amazed when I see a police vehicle of any sort obeying traffic laws.

  • Hildagirl

    I am absolutely aghast at everything surrounding this accident. This is my neighborhood and my neighbor. I am so sorry that this has happened, and my heart goes out to her family and friends.

    With that said, I will be very bittersweetly pleased if any changes may come from this tragedy. I wish that I had had the opportunity to be at the vigil last week, change needs to happen. Traffic collisions, injuries and deaths are called accidents immediately. These are our streets too. Any change has to be pushed though. Urge your friends and family to sign the petition. Think of the changes that you are so used to now that were ‘never gonna happen”…

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