Dan Fellegara Killed by Cab Driver in Manhattan, No Charges Filed

An outlaw committed suicide on Sixth Avenue early Sunday morning. At least that’s how the death of Dan Fellegara was reported by the Post and Daily News.

Dan Fellegara. Photo via Facebook

Fellegara, a construction manager from Baltimore who, according to most accounts, was 29, was crossing Sixth at Watts Street in Soho at around 4:30 a.m. when he fell and was run over by a cab driver. From the News:

“They crossed on the red light,” said the cabbie, who declined to use his name.

“They were running across, but one of the guys fell.”

The driver said he had no time to stop.

“I hit the brake, but I ran over him,” he said. “He ended up under the car. It was really bad.”

Under the headline “Taxi kills jaywalking man in SoHo,” the Post explains: “[Fellegara] was crossing against the light … when he fell in the street and was hit by the oncoming yellow cab, police said.” NYPD told Gothamist the victim was “attempting to evade oncoming traffic” and was “inadvertently struck.” The driver was not charged.

It could be that Fellegara tried to run across Sixth Avenue against the light knowing that vehicles were approaching. But if you want to know how fast the cab driver was going, a factor that could have determined whether Fellegara lived or died, that information is apparently considered irrelevant by NYPD and city media. While questions of right of way are reported and repeated by default in cases like this one, driver speed is almost never mentioned by police in press accounts.

Note that the right of way question is only hammered home when the driver “has the light.” In the thousands of cases where a pedestrian or cyclist has the right of way and is nonetheless injured or killed by an errant driver, the crash is virtually always deemed an “accident” by police and the media. This double standard goes a long way toward explaining why crossing against a light, or crossing mid-block, is considered akin to jumping in front of a train.

This fatal crash occurred in the 1st Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Deputy Inspector Edward J. Winski, the commanding officer, head to the next precinct community council meeting. The 1st Precinct council meetings happen at 6:30 p.m. on the last Thursday of each month at the precinct, 16 Ericsson Place. Call the precinct at 212-334-0640 for information.

  • Glenn

    What about the driver exercising “due care”? If you see someone crossing in front of you, the right the to do is slow down if not come to a complete, not assume that the person will continue at their current speed and you will whiz behind them.

  • Angry Motorist

    @b0b5a0cf4ee09ff380fd46de4055393f:disqus drivers in NYC understand “due care” as leaning on the horn as they drive at full speed through an intersection where pedestrians are present.

  • Guest

    Streetsblog really has no right calling the “media” in to question considering they make absolutely zero effort to enforce journalistic standards in their own posts. I feel like I might as well be hearing Rush Limbaugh complain about how racist the democratic party is.

  • Anonymous Guest: We have a point of view on Streetsblog and we don’t hide it. We also make every effort to ensure that the information we publish is accurate. If you care to contest Brad’s characterizations of how fatal traffic crashes are reported in New York City, you are welcome to cite counterexamples.

  • At first glance I thought SB was condoning illegal jaywalking and I was going to lash out like the Anon post below but I totally see the point you are making here. 

    If the cabbie had been doing the 30mph limit it is much more likely that he would have been able to stop and if he hit him, the result would likely not have been death. 

  • Anonymous

    As an example of biased traffic reporting: Are there any reports of the terrible event in the Bronx that note *in the headline* that the van was judged to have been going 70 mph when the event occurred? That killed seven people, and it’s rightly considered a tragedy. This killed one, and it’s also a tragedy, but the Post more or less argues from the get go that the guy deserved it

    I’ll also note that on the NYT the story on the van crash for a long time used the formulation “the van lost control.” They fixed it by the final edit–perhaps thanks to commenters pointing out the illogic of that idea. But it’s still evidence of just how deeply ingrained it is in reporters to see car crashes as agentless (while bike and pedestrian events are typically caused by the victims).

  • Joe R.

    Let’s be realistic-this is NYC, not Seattle. People here are not going to stop jaywalking or crossing against the light nor should they because both actions are usually safer than crossing at corners with the light. As such, it’s incumbent upon motorists to drive in such a manner that they can stop in time when a pedestrian does the unpredictable. In some places overseas you’re even considered automatically at fault if you hit a more vulnerable user. In Manhattan especially, pedestrians should be king. There should be no issue of “It’s not my fault because the pedestrian crossed against the light”. Pedestrians (and cyclists) in Manhattan should have the right of way over motor vehicles always, regardless of the state of the traffic signals. Yes, this will make driving there slower, more chaotic, and much more unpleasant, which is exactly the point. The end result will be far fewer motor vehicles and safer streets.

  • There are peds that cross against the light and there are drivers who refuse to even slow down when they do. Both sides of this equation seem to ignore the fact that, if one of them slips up, someone could wind up dead. In the end though, I side with SB in that drivers have a greater level of responsibility as they are the ones controlling the 3000 lb machine.

  • fj

    wouldn’t need traffic lights if we there were no cars.

  • fj

    Guest, saw an elderly women crossing with a group of people become disoriented and panicked from a driver honking wildly on Park Avenue and was sent airborne and likely killed when the driver was trying to make a light.  At least one witness was hysterically crying.

    The driver was lamenting, “but I had the light.”

    Reckless endangerment plain and simple.

    A driver honked at me from behind and hit me on the side and did not realize it; luckily going real slow so I was not hurt.  When I confronted him about it he said “but I honked” as if it gave him the right of way.  A driver does not have the right of way if people are standing in front of him no matter what color the light or how hard he honks. 

    And, when people are close enough to be in danger of being hit he should be going slow enough to stop in time for random activity.

  • eLK

     “I had the light” seems to be the NYC version of “stand your ground.”

  • guest

    Dan Fellegara was my employee and friend.  this is a terrible loss. knowing Dan i can almost guarantee that the driver was frickin’ flying.  and i have been in a cab at 5:00 am, when there is little traffic and they fly down the streets. maybe Dan didn’t “have the light” but again, i will guarantee the taxi was exceeding a safe speed.

  • Anonymous

     @3a319b8520133cd5359772c542530cc2:disqus I hope you’ll convey to his other friends and his family that many people here in New York consider what happened to your friend to be an outrage. I was thinking about it this morning on my way into work–especially about how often, even when I’m crossing with a light, a turning cab will be rolling at me as fast as it can, ready to hit and kill me if I should happen to stumble on New York’s famously bad roads.

    I hope your friend’s family doesn’t accept the “it was an accident” line as the end of the case. It should be pursued as a civil action at the very least. New York City law requires those of us operating vehicles to exercise due care of pedestrians. There’s no way that cab was.

  • guest

    Dan was a close friend of mine and the reporting of this tragedy, as well as the assumed liability of the driver is unacceptable and outrageous.  Regardless of the status of the light, it is obvious that this driver was driving entirely too fast for conditions without awareness or caution for surrounding pedestrians nor respect for human life.  If the driver was traveling anywhere near a safe speed limit than they should of been able to stop or swerve to avoid the collision all together unless the driver was not paying attention to the road ahead of them.  This will not be the end of this.  A great person has been lost.  Hopefully justice is served.

  • Peter

    The cab driver was found guilty in civil court proceedings. The court discovery process clearly indicated the complete fault for this crash was with the cab driver. He faced no criminal charges. NYC district attorney’s office must do a better job keeping our streets safe

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