Victim’s Mother Shames CBS2 for Using Traffic Death to Bolster Carl Kruger

Last December, Sonia King lost her son Jason after a truck driver backed up illegally and ran over him while he was in the crosswalk on Madison Avenue at 81st Street, walking to work. The next month, she watched a Marcia Kramer segment on CBS2 about State Senator Carl Kruger’s bid to ban walking while listening to music or talking on cell phones. The segment contained the following passage about her son’s death:

Jason was just 21 and his death and along with other accidents involving people using electronic gadgets while walking is why Brooklyn Sen. Karl Kruger [sic] is looking to ban things like cell phones and iPods for pedestrians crossing the street.

“We have people who are literally dying in the street,” Kruger said.

Dying, Kruger said, not because they are distracted drivers but because they are distracted walkers.

“They ran that segment about my son to promote Kruger’s law. We were very disturbed by it,” Sonia King told Streetsblog. “Nobody from the network contacted the family.”

In response, she sent the following email to CBS2, Carl Kruger, and the Manhattan DA’s office:

On December 7th, 2010 my son Jason King, aged 21, was crossing the street legally in the crosswalk when a large construction Mack truck illegally backed up into the crosswalk and killed him. The driver got only a summons. [Editor’s note: the driver has received additional penalties for careless driving, which is a traffic infraction, not a criminal charge.]

In the ensuing media frenzy, a politician, Carl Kruger, announced he is sponsoring legislation that he knows will never pass to ban people from wearing headphones while walking. CBS News, in the form of Marcia Kramer looking for an exclusive, intruded into our son Jason’s death by using his picture and his grieving coworkers’ comments to run a story for this politician and his political grandstanding. Neither CBS, their reporter Marcia Kramer or politician Kruger had the decency to contact the family for permission, a comment on their story or any other common courtesy.

The accident happened on Madison Avenue, a one way street. There was no reason for my son, Jason, to be looking to see if cars or trucks were coming the wrong way. The driver killed a 21 year old who was walking to work by backing illegally on a one way street into a crosswalk. None of that is mentioned by CBS or politician Kruger. Nor did they ask us, his family. They left the truth out of the story and used our son’s death to go for headlines and political pandering.

Shame on politician Kruger for leaving out the truth.

Shame on CBS for knowing the truth, omitting it and giving this politician his headline.

Shame on CBS for not contacting the family for a comment because they knew the truth would complicate their story.

Shame on Marcia Kramer for intruding into our familys grieving without any consideration just so she can run an incorrect story.

Only a summons for a driver who illegally backed into a crosswalk and killed a young man. No prosecution by the District Attorney. How about demanding that the District Attorney prosecute this driver for killing a young man, politician Kruger?

Sonia King says she has not received a response from CBS2 or Carl Kruger.

  • Glenn

    Blaming the dead victim of a traffic incident instead of the illegally driving killer. Classic.

  • eveostay

    Heartwrenching. Thank you, Sonia King, for making your story public. How I wish it were not necessary.

  • Ms. King is outraged and with good cause. The Daily News article reporting on her son’s death cited unnamed “police sources” for the claim that an iPod was found at the scene, and from there, the mainstream media with Carl Kruger following closely behind took up this tragic death as an “example” to cite in favor of their pro-car agenda.

    Why is it the Accident Investigation Squad of the NYPD won’t announce whether they are applying Section 1146 (Hayley & Diego’s Law) in the cases they investigate, but they allow their members to leak prejudicial statements to the press based on conjecture? These kinds of leaks show incredible insensitivity to victim’s families, and could conceivably prejudice their ability to recover damages in a civil suit.

  • Eric

    Good for Mrs. King. Holding Macia Kramer, CBS and Carl Kruger accountable for deliberately omitting crucial facts about the death her son is needed.

  • Omri

    Goes to show that Marcia Kramer isn’t just biased. She is a wicked, heartless woman who does not deserve even civility.

  • sanity

    Love and admiration to this woman for standing up for her family and for her son’s name. She could have just let this go, but we are all better for her bringing the truth to light.

    It’s almost as though the mainstream media is actively seeking new ways to act more repugnant.

  • Other than the fact that Marcia Kramer may be the worst journalist in New York, unable to pick up the phone to get a response from anyone with an opposing point of view, even when that person is a grieving mom, there’s something else to point out here.

    Quoting Sonia King:

    “The accident happened on Madison Avenue, a one way street. There was no reason for my son, Jason, to be looking to see if cars or trucks were coming the wrong way.”

    When someone is hit by a car, the media response more or less says that the person should have been more careful, even on a one-way street or in a crosswalk with the light.

    But when someone is so much as buzzed by a wrong-way biker, the media response is that pedestrians shouldn’t have to look both ways down one way streets.

    Both behaviors are wrong — reckless driving & wrong-way biking — but it’s interesting to note how CBS2 & co. can change their tune on personal responsibility when it’s a driver who is doing something illegal.

  • Driver

    “There was no reason for my son, Jason, to be looking to see if cars or trucks were coming the wrong way.”
    Unfortunately, there is good reason to always look both ways, and this tragedy is a perfect example of why.

  • Danny

    Driver,

    What you’re saying amounts to “pedestrian beware.” Hoes does that make sense when people who ARE looking both ways get hit? Be more aware? Unfortunately, the media has nothing but an ad hoc argument (if the pedestrian could only be MORE careful) because they are not human enough to acknowledge the real problem: the design of our roads prioritize the vehicles, the mode of transport with the most potential and history of harming people.

    Just think about what you’re saying before you say it. Your comment refuses to analyze the real problem while also being incredibly insensitive and uncompassionate. This young man died because people who think like you do insist that the automobile is the only reasonable mode of transport. THAT mindset enables careless, even reckless and criminal driving habits.

  • Danny

    We need better laws, better ways of enforcing those laws, and better street design.

  • Driver, this tragedy is a perfect example of why car and truck drivers need to learn to drive around the block, rather than back up down one-way streets through crosswalks.

  • Driver

    “What you’re saying amounts to “pedestrian beware.”
    Essentially, yes. It’s not about who’s right or wrong. Just because traffic is only allowed to travel in one direction does not mean that will always happen. To insist otherwise if extremely foolish.

    “Just think about what you’re saying before you say it. Your comment refuses to analyze the real problem while also being incredibly insensitive and uncompassionate.”
    Do you disagree with my statement? Perhaps you feel comfortable looking only one way on a one way street, completely confident that others will flawlessly follow the rules and there is no chance that anything is coming from the other direction.

    My comment was not intended to analyze the problem, I was pointing out that there is a flaw in the logic of the statement I originally quoted. I’m sorry if it is insensitive or uncompassionate. I’m not placing blame on the pedestrian, the fault here is certainly with the driver. That doesn’t mean that as pedestrians we can’t protect ourselves from the actions of others the best we can. To cling to the notion that everyone else is responsible for protecting us from their own actions is foolish. Sure it’s a good principle, but when someone else F’s up, it’s the pedestrian that’s dead. Sorry, but I don’t rely on everyone else to be perfect in protecting my safety, I make sure to use my own caution and judgment to make up for the shortcomings of others. It may not be a solution, but it is a small part of safety improvement; one we can all do.

    “Driver, this tragedy is a perfect example of why car and truck drivers need to learn to drive around the block, rather than back up down one-way streets through crosswalks.”
    I agree Doug G, but it is also a perfect example of why we should look both ways, not just where we expect traffic to come from.

  • I have no problem with taking responsibility for my own actions and looking both ways at crosswalks. What chafes me is when “take responsibility for your own actions” is made government policy for the less protected class–pedestrians–in order to insulate the more protected class–motor vehicle operators–from the inevitable consequences of moving around two (or more) tons of steel at highway speeds.

  • Stupid gunshot victim. Why didn’t she dodge the bullet?

  • Doug G.

    Driver, I don’t disagree with you at all. I don’t take anything for granted when I cross the street, even when it’s one-way.

    You aren’t wrong, but you put the emphasis on the wrong thing, and then, way down the road, that leads to bad journalism by Marcia Kramer and wasteful legislation proposals by Kruger. It’s kind of like saying a robbery victim was wrong for counting his cash on the subway right before the thief took it from him. That’s not wrong, per se, since we all have to live in the real world, but ultimately blame lives with the thief. Would you steal from someone if they were waving hundreds on the subway platform? If you needed to turn around, would you drive around the block or would you back up through a crosswalk? It just seems to simple to reduce the lesson here to “be careful.” Yeah, of course, but there’s more happening here.

    I think the real lesson needs to be that there is nowhere anyone is going that is so important that they need to put another, more vulnerable person’s life at risk. When you knowingly speed, run a red light, when you back up down a one-way street, when you turn quickly, when you act carelessly, you place a value that your time is more important than whatever risk you pose to others.

    I see cars racing to catch green lights, honking and honking and honking at jaywalking pedestrians to get out of the way, not slowing down at all. The peds run out of the way. This happens all the time. Technically, the peds are wrong for jaywalking, but just because you honk at someone and warn them that you are coming, does that still give you the right to hit them? If you have a back-up beep signal, does that absolve you of the responsibility to look before you back up?

    As I said, you aren’t wrong on a technical level, even with all laws enforced and with more responsible drivers accidents happen, but it just seems that you completely oversimplified what happened in this case.

  • @Mark Walker: iPod “might” have been found at scene => Victim was probably listening to music => Victim is to blame for not getting out of bullet’s way. Case closed.

  • roger

    My comment is that, ALTHOUGH NOT NECESSARILY IN THIS CASE, pedestrians (me included!!) DO need to be more careful in Manhattan. We all know the pedestrians cross against red all the time, which is against the law. We all know pedestrians don’t always cross at crosswalks, which is against the law.

    Whenever I stand on the sidewalk waiting to cross and I see people standing in the roadway ready to cross, I don’t understand why people would intentionally put themselves in more harm’s way.

    When I cycle in Manhattan, my biggest difficulty is not with vehicles – its the pedestrians who suddenly dart out from between parked cars, who walk in the bike lane or who cross against red.

    All that said, you can’t legislate against stupidity and its about time people started doing everything they can to keep themselves safe – so stay alert in all situations and expect the worse.

  • Investigative Reporter

    Sonia King,

    I really hope that you will continue to talk about this in the media and you will pursue Kramer and Kruger and hold them accountable. Their actions are utterly reprehensible and inhumane.

    If you need to get in touch with Kramer directly, here is her contact information:

    office: 212-975-7372
    mobile: 917-991-5220
    pager: 888-367-0689

    CBS Broadcasting Inc.
    524 W. 57th Street
    NYC, NY 10019

  • Marsha Kramer’s Eyebrow

    Wow, CBS is just getting worse. I tell everyone I know now not to watch them. It’ll spread, don’t worry.

  • Thank you, Ms. King. The pressure to blame traffic victims in this city is enormous; a relative of mine was hit and severely injured while crossing with a walk signal, and she even blamed herself for not expecting two cars to run the red light. It takes guts to stand up when others would rather you sit down, especially after a loss. We are all in your debt.

  • SK

    Thank you, to all those who have shown kindness and support with your comments during this extremely difficult time.

    I am asking everyone to call Marcia Kramer at 917.991.5220 or 212.975.7372 and NYS Senator Carl Kruger at 718.743.8610 starting Monday, February 14th to express their outrage of how they defiled the memory of Jason King, and lied about his manner of death in collusion with CBS News.

  • P

    Yes, I will definitely call to ask Marcia Kramer, Carl Kruger, and CBS News to retract the story that they ran two weeks ago, and to offer an apology for the all pain and suffering they have caused to the King family.

  • Elizabeth

    So sad that we have to live with reporters like Marcia Kramer in NYC!!! Does she have any children, nieces or nephews, loved ones? Probably not! Someone who is capable of clearly omitting a very important fact on the media is someone who is a heartless human being. Kramer, along with Senator Kruger and Jonathan Adkins (Governor Highway Safety Association) are reporting on a story that is not being told with the total truth! Jason King was killed by a truck reversing through an intersection on a one way street. I wish Kramer, Kruger, Adkins, and all others who blame Jason for his own death lots of luck in their lives. May they never feel the pain that the King family is feeling because they too will find ignorant people who will blame their loved one/victim for their own death!!!!! Be careful- according to people like them, get out of the way if a careless, reckless driver is on the road. Give them space because you may get hit and it’ll be your fault for not moving quick enough!!

    I will definitely call on Monday to voice my opinion. You can count on me!!

  • Anna

    The mother is absolutely right. There was no consideration of the family. A 21 year old died that day and his death became a circus for the media and the politicians who want to get a story and make a name for themselves. A human being is gone. A wonderful young man who had so many opportunities. A careless drives who took all away from him because he didn’t want to go around theblock. Really! How fair is that? What if it was your son! What if Jason was your loved one!

  • Joe R.

    So now the “blame the victim” mentality which the media has been using every time a cyclist is killed is also being used against pedestrians? How soon before the NYPD has a crackdown on jaywalkers, just like the current crackdown on cyclists, ostensibly in the interests of safety, all while continuing to ignore the real menace, namely motorists who can literally kill with impunity? I’m thinking had Jason been killed by a cyclist, the media would be all over it, castigating the “reckless cyclist” every which way. Instead, they all but ignore the fact that a driver who was too lazy to go around the block is responsible for taking a human life. Granted, pedestrians should look both ways before crossing, but at the same time we don’t need motorists doing stupid ( and illegal ) things adding to the existing chaos on city streets.

  • Elena A.

    I would like to know if Marcia Kramer has any children and how would she feel if this had happened to one of her own children or family member? Would she still try to blame the victim for listening to an iPod? She owes the King family a HUGH apology…I knew Jason King from when he was an infant, and it hurt so much to find out how his precious life ended. SHAME ON Marcia Kramer and CBS…

  • Nick

    Mrs.King please accept my condolences on the loss of your son. Don’t give up hold these people accountable for their dispicable behavior,typical politician and news outlet! They take tragic incidents and twist them any way they can to push their agenda at any cost!!! God Bless and good luck.

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