Vacca Calls for Thorough NYPD Inquiry Into Death of Cyclist David Oliveras

A young Bronx man was killed by the driver of a BMW SUV just after 7 p.m. last Wednesday evening. The driver was traveling northbound on Williamsbridge Road when he struck cyclist David Oliveras, who was pronounced dead at Jacobi Hospital.

Photo: ##http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Bicyclist-Struck-Killed-SUV-Bronx-Williamsbridge-Mace-Avenue-147093715.html##NBC New York##

Press accounts of the crash have been wildly inconsistent, and now City Council Member James Vacca is calling on NYPD to thoroughly investigate.

According to the first published account of the crash, reported by NBC, witnesses said Oliveras was mounting his bicycle, close to curb, when he was struck near the intersection of Mace Avenue.

Later accounts said that Oliveras “rode suddenly from the sidewalk onto Williamsbridge Road” (the Post), and that the crash happened closer to Waring Avenue (DNAinfo).

The unifying element in the different stories is that the driver was traveling fast and hit Oliveras with tremendous force. A witness told the Post that the impact sent the victim “flying out of his sneakers,” and witness Marilyn Portis told NBC that the driver “was going too fast, to hit him that hard.”

Police and the Bronx DA have not filed charges, and an officer in NYPD’s public information office told Streetsblog today that because “no criminality is suspected,” it suggests “driver speed was not a factor.”

The methods NYPD used to deduce that speeding didn’t contribute to the crash are unknown, and they will remain shielded from public scrutiny until the crash report can be unearthed. Pursuing the release of crash reports can be an agonizingly lengthy experience for victims’ families. For the general public, police won’t divulge the report absent a freedom of information request, followed by several months of bureaucratic delay. Once retrieved, investigative files have revealed that police blamed victims and exonerated drivers based on little more than the word of the driver or the driver’s passengers.

The crash that killed David Oliveras happened in Vacca’s district. Vacca, chair of the City Council transportation committee, recently led a joint hearing on NYPD crash investigations. He is calling for a complete inquiry from NYPD.

“Accidents like this should never happen on our streets,” Vacca said in a statement. “I would ask that the NYPD conduct a thorough investigation into the causes of the crash. This accident, like all fatal accidents between motorists and cyclists or pedestrians, deserves a thorough inquiry. The family deserves to know why this young man tragically lost his life, and if the driver killed someone while he was violating a traffic law, he should be given more than a traffic ticket.”

This crash occurred in the 49th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Deputy Inspector Kevin Nicholson, the commanding officer, head to the next precinct community council meeting. The 49th Precinct council meetings happen at 7:30 p.m. on the last Tuesday of the month, at 1913 Bronxdale Avenue. Call the precinct at 718-918-2025 for information.

  • Better to have Vacca on our side than against us, I suppose. 

    It at least signals a breakthrough in the messaging that is reaching Vacca’s office from his constituents – it’s now a lot of calls for street safety measures and enforcement, and not just an assorted pile of neighborhood whackos screaming about how bikes need to be banned because they once had a rude encounter with a messenger. 

    If that’s indeed the case, I welcome this news. Depressingly, yet predictably, it took more death to make it happen.

  • Eric McClure

    Council Member Vacca: If you want to help prevent these types of deaths, please introduce legislation compelling the NYPD to secure the “black box” from any car involved in a crash that results in serious injury or death.  Vehicle event data recorders contain vital information on driver inputs, such as the speed of the vehicle at the time of a crash, whether or not the brakes were deployed, and more.

    We do this for airplane crashes.  Why not car crashes?

  • m to the i

    How can you do a thorough investigation of a crash 5 days after it occurred? A thorough investigation would have to occur right away when witnesses are present and there is physical evidence. Too bad the NYPD does not understand what a thorough investigation of a traffic fatality is. To them, a thorough investigation only is conducting a breathalyzer test.

  • Great post Ben, especially excellent use of links to help us understand just how predictable the NYPD routine is in these cases. And it’s wonderful to hear Chair Vacca speaking up for his constituents on this.

  • Anonymous

    I’m so used to automatically disagreeing with Vacca, that I don’t really know what to do.  Every fiber of my being is suddenly crying out to blame the cyclist, I don’t care for this at all.

  • KillMoto

    Thank you @EricMcClure:disqus , well said. 

    When a police officer kills someone in the line of duty, they lose their gun and are assigned desk duty until all the facts are in (at least that’s what happens on TV). 

    We need legislation that requires all suspects of vehicular homicide lose their driving privileges until expressly cleared of wrongdoing. If we can do that, we’ll get pressure from the perpetrators as well as the victims families for the police to conduct their investigation quickly, rather than dragging their feet until sued. 

  • This is getting truly obscene. The NYPD cannot be prevailed upon to devote adequate manpower to investigate these crashes, but right now dozens of them are running up the overtime clock because a crowd of leftists has shown the audacity to lie down on Wall Street. 

    The NYPD is not serving and protecting the people of New York.

  • Boris

    On a recent trip to Canada, I was surprised to find out (from highway billboards) that going (just) 50 km/h over the speed limit can result in your car being confiscated – on the spot. When I tell anyone that in NYC you can kill with a car and not even get a slap on the wrist, I get weird stares.

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