At least one witness told police that a driver ran a red light before a collision last week that resulted in the death of a Jackson Heights pedestrian, according to reports.
In the early afternoon of March 21, Margaret Choberka, 82, was walking near her home at 32nd Ave. and 70th St. when the drivers of a Toyota minivan and a Mercedes SUV collided at the intersection. The Mercedes then struck Choberka, who suffered head trauma and died at the scene.
The account of the incident in YourNabe says: “A witness at the scene who declined to give his name said the Toyota had run through a red light at the intersection.” A Queens Gazette blotter item reads: “eyewitnesses told investigators the driver of the Toyota ran a red light.” No charges were filed.
Some nearby residents said they had lived in the area for many years and found that speeding had gotten much worse recently, especially from motorists attempting to outrun red lights.
“People come down this block at 50 miles an hour to beat that light,” said Anthony DiGesu, 49, referring to the traffic light at the intersection of 70th Street and 31st Avenue.
NYPD confirmed all other details of the collision, but told Streetsblog there was no mention of a driver running a red light in the incident report, that both drivers had “valid paperwork,” and that “no criminality was suspected.”
It’s hard to fathom how neither driver could be at fault in this case, since, barring a mechanical malfunction of some sort, a two-car “t-bone” collision at a signalized intersection pretty much requires one driver to run the light. This crash is also reminiscent of the one that killed pedestrian Genowefa Kurpiewska (initially identified as Beata Kurpiewski). On May 18, 2010, Kurpiewska and her 3-year-old grandson were hit after a speeding driver blew through a light and struck another vehicle in the Castleton Corners neighborhood of Staten Island. Due to the particularly horrific nature of the crash, Kurpiewska’s death drew an unusual amount of media attention. The driver was charged with homicide.
It could be that there are mitigating factors here, details not reported by the press nor revealed by NYPD. It could be that crash investigators relied on the notorious “rule of two” when deciding whether to press charges or issue summonses. Whatever the variables, whomever caused the death of Margaret Choberka — and someone most certainly did — it appears that as far as NYPD is concerned, her case is closed.