Kevin Rodriguez, 3, Killed by Ambulette Driver in Brooklyn, No Charges Filed

A 3-year-old child was killed by an ambulette driver in Coney Island Friday evening.

Media reports indicate that the driver who killed Kevin Rodriguez was exonerated by NYPD in as little as four hours.

Kevin Rodriguez was walking with his father on Neptune Avenue toward West 15th Street when he broke away and ran for his mother, Feizy Marcos, who was at a laundry on the opposite corner, according to reports. Seeing the ambulette approaching, Marcos screamed to alert the driver, who drove over Kevin as she turned right from Neptune onto West 15th. From the Post:

“[She] hit him and he was under the car,” said Luis Peregine, 15, a family member. “And she saw he was still trying to get up. And she kept telling him to stop and then he moved and she said the wheel went over his head. The back wheel went over his neck.”

Kevin was taken to Coney Island Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The crash occurred at approximately 7:47 p.m. Friday. By 12:10 a.m. Saturday, reports exonerating the driver were coming online. From the Daily News:

No criminality was suspected. The driver of the Great Ambulette Service vehicle was sober and driving responsibly, sources said.

If the driver had a green light when turning, she was required by law to look for pedestrians in the crosswalk, who would have had the right-of-way, based on descriptions of the crash. While it’s understandable that she would not see a small child until rounding the corner — there is perpendicular parking on the north side of this stretch of Neptune Avenue — it seems a person “driving responsibly” would have been prepared to stop before entering the crosswalk.

But this is little more than speculation. What we know is that NYPD exculpated the driver with astonishing speed. At 9:12 a.m., roughly 13 hours after the crash, NY1 reported that she had been cleared of wrongdoing.

This fatal crash occurred in the 60th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Inspector Peter DeBlasio, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 60th Precinct council meetings happen at 7:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month at the precinct station house, 2951 West 8th St. Call 718-946-3328 for information.

The City Council district where Kevin Rodriguez was killed is represented by Domenic Recchia. To encourage Recchia to take action to improve street safety in his district and citywide, contact him at 212-788-7045, drecchia@council.nyc.gov or @DomenicRecchia.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Kevin Rodriguez was walking with his father on Neptune Avenue toward West 15th Street when he broke away and ran for his mother.”

    The nightmare I fear.  The slower you are going, the more likely you are to be able to stop in time.

  • Disgusted

    How out of touch are our elected officials? A three-year-old’s head can be crushed by a driver and it’s business as usual, but the scourge of delivery cyclists almost hitting little old ladies on the Upper East Side drives the City Council to propose stiff fines and harsh penalties. 

    Here’s James Vacca on delivery cyclists:

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    –“But when
    it comes to the crisis, and it is a crisis, of people’s safety, pedestrians’
    safety, that many of the commercial bicyclists do not have regard for, then
    this city has a legal obligation to protect the law-abiding citizens, who only
    want to cross a street. 

  • Disgusted

    “But when it comes to the crisis, and it is a crisis, of people’s
    safety, pedestrians’ safety, that many of the commercial bicyclists do
    not have regard for, then this city has a legal obligation to protect
    the law-abiding citizens, who only want to cross a street.”

  • carma

    @f9b2cb395abd5a101456b3b0a40912e1:disqus 
    Yes, its true, the slower you go, the less likely you will be killed, but in the case of a 3 year old darting and getting his head crushed.  Even 10mph will likely yield the same result.

  • This appears to be a case where there was too little time to react. This also could have been prevented if the child was wearing an attachment to his father.

  • Motor Moloch

    Let’s see the results of the investigation, Commissioner Kelly. MAKE THE INFORMATION PUBLIC. Let us see what happened in this incident, so that we can take steps to preventing this from happening again in the future. Why not?

  • Morris Zapp

    @d8d46f16f380afef59ca318522397233:disqus So speed has a negligible effect on driver reaction time, and the severity of a collision if one can’t be avoided? What garbage.

    @aemoreira81:disqus It also could have been prevented if the parents owned a washer and dryer. Or if the child were never born.

  • Anonymous

    “And she saw he was still trying to get up. And she kept telling him to stop and then he moved and she said the wheel went over his head. The back wheel went over his neck.”

    This phrasing isn’t clear?  So the driver saw the kid and kept moving?  I don’t follow. 

  • carma

    @eccfe854e12a08a0548f0744d7ddcee4:disqus 
    speed and reaction time are two different variables.  your reaction time is fixed where as speed affects your stopping distance.  both combined affects how long before your vehicle stops.  

    Were YOU there at the incident to give a complete analysis including the actual speed?

    YOU are the one who gives such garbage.

    if a child darts out and you were turning, you could be going 10mph or even 5mph, and a small child will still likely suffer serious damage.  i am not ruling out that a slower speed may have yielded a different outcome, but a small child darting out and getting its head crushed can happen as little as 5 mph.

    Brad, it is the law to yield to pedestrians, however, there is no law to STOP at every turn into an intersection although a responsible driver is prepared to stop in case they need to. furthermore the perpendicular parked cars DOES block your vantage point regardless of a child or an adult.

  • Brad Aaron

    @d8d46f16f380afef59ca318522397233:disqus I believe that’s what I wrote in the post, but thanks.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Whether you are a parent or not, if you are a driver, it is your responsibility to slow down and yield to any person in the crosswalk. No, I didn’t see the accident, but as the parent of a small child, I’m horrified that the driver was exonerated so quickly. Did AIS get called on this one? I am reading this blog while watching my little daughter play…and this is a nightmare that I have about living in this city. So sure, I’ll hold her hand, but I also hope that drivers will follow the law and yield to me when I’m crossing with the light. Especially when I’m crossing with my child!
    How did the cops know within four hours that there was no criminality? Was there any investigation at all? This post comes only a day after the super sad rally at City Hall in memory of Clara Heyworth. It’s time to shift priorities to protect vulnerable road users: walkers and cyclists, especially our youngest and oldest citizens.

  • Anonymous

    Carma, your initial response was bass ackwards.

    The SLOW applied to the driver making the turn, not to the people crossing.

    Hitting pedestrians crossing on the green is an epidemic in this city, ignored by the police.

    Traffic law requires turning vehicles to yield to all straight through traffic.  That includes pedestrians crossing as well as bicyclists going straight through.  If clear view of the intersection is blocked by cars, or very typically, large SUVs and trucks right at the corner, then the turning driver has to slow down sufficiently to be able to see if the turn is clear, and be traveling slowly enough to stop if it’s not clear.  Traveling faster than you can see to stop is negligence or willful disregard for safety.

    You comment about stopping time being the combination of reaction and braking time is correct, but both can be greatly shortened if the driver’s foot is over the brake pedal instead of firmly planted on the gas pedal.  It’s not hard to hear an engine growling all the way through a turn, and we know that was a car that was not ready to stop.

    It should not take much skill to see a parent and child crossing, and it does not take much imagination to worry if the child breaks loose.  It does not take much skill to take you foot off the gas and put it over the brake and be ready to stop.  What we get are drivers who think what I just said is a total imposition on their right to drive as fast as they want to anytime or place they want to.  I don’t think that’s what you are advocating – full speed ahead and damn the pedestrians?  Or is it?

    There are some things that some drivers are doing that are just plain wrong; and, by the way, are also illegal.  It would be nice if the New York City Police would bother to learn and apply some traffic law where appropriate.

  • Max Power

    We have some pretty screwed up traffc safety priorities when we expect more awareness from a toddler than from a driver

  • Andrew

    @Brownstone2:disqus Thank you.

    I have the strong feeling that most drivers in New York honestly think that green means go, without regard for pedestrians crossing in the light. If they do stop for pedestrians, they do as a courtesy, not because they’re required to.

    So it may be time for an educational campaign for a few months. Give drivers a chance to learn what’s really expected of them. Then start arresting drivers who fail to yield.

  • carma

    @Brownstone2:disqus 
    “Carma, your initial response was bass ackwards.”
    right.  whatever.  do you have solid proof of the driver’s speed at the turn?

    my point stands.  if there was a child darting into the intersection while the driver was turning, a cautious speed may still not have saved the child,  EVEN IF they took precautions and approached the turn at a reasonable speed.  most cautious turns are much less than 10mph and it doesnt take a lot of speed to run over and kill a child.

    do we have ANY solid proof that this driver was driving irresponsibly?  you can continue to blame the driver all you want, but from what has been indicated so far, we have no other evidence other than the child darted through.
    to me it sounds as a very unfortunate accident.  i cant blame the driver without all the known facts nor can i blame the child for being a child.

  • Andrew

    @d8d46f16f380afef59ca318522397233:disqus This driver – like all drivers – was required to yield to pedestrians while turning. If he was driving too fast to stop for a potential pedestrian, then he was driving irresponsibly.

    There is nothing accidental about striking and killing someone who is crossing the street, with the walk signal, in a crosswalk.

  • Joe R.

    First off, why do we allow cars to park so close to the corner that it impairs visibility for both drivers and pedestrians? The last 50 or 60 feet before an intersection should be a no parking/no standing zone. In fact, extending the sidewalk to prevent parking in that area should be done. Light or not, when I’m crossing I like to look before I cross. Zero visibility is a bad situation. The “right” of people to store their personal property on city streets shouldn’t usurp my right to be able to have a clear line of sight at intersections. I refuse to have blind faith in traffic signals due to zero visibility, assuming there even is a traffic signal. Moreover, I shouldn’t to be forced to waste my time waiting for a green signal to cross just because some bozo decided to block my ability to determine on my own if it is safe to cross.

    Second, since it appears many drivers are showing that they’re unable to safely make turns and yield as required, perhaps we just shouldn’t allow turns at every corner, only at a very few designated ones which have either pedestrian overpasses or dedicated signaling for turns (complete with gates which block turning when the light is red).

    Third, crossing midblock is always safer and this should be the norm if we continue to insist on allowing cars to make turns at every corner.

    Fourth, even though the law requires drivers to yield to crossing pedestrians, I find few do so I always look, always assume they won’t, and cross accordingly. Truth be told, unless I’m directly in front of the driver, I would rather they *don’t* yield. The other day I was crossing, saw a car making a left turn. I was about 5 feet away from where the car would have been had it kept going. Miraculously, the car actually slowed and yielded to me (yes, this rare miracle sometimes does occur in NYC, perhaps only during years when Venus transits the sun). Anyway, it took me longer to cross once I determined the car was stopping because because I now had to wait for the car to completely stop, whereas had it kept going I only would have momentarily broken my stride. I personally feel a more efficient way to do things for both parties might be to only require a driver to yield to any pedestrian who is or will be directly in the path of their car when they’re turning. Or perhaps that’s how a judge might interpret “yield” under the current statute. To wait for someone starting to cross at the opposite end of the cross walk when you could have already completely your turn and been long gone by the time they get to your side of the street makes zero sense. Obviously that wasn’t the case here. I’m just saying that if drivers yielded 100% of the time, it might actually slow down a lot of people crossing as happened to me.

  • Joe R.

    @Andrew_J_C:disqus Regardless of what the law prescribes, in practice a lot of intersections have limited or no visibility when turning due to parked cars. This is a bad situation which must be rectified of course. At the same time it makes things very dangerous for everyone. Sure, ideally a turning driver should slow as much as needed to determine if the path is clear before turning. In practice this would often mean coming to a dead stop mid turn right before the crosswalk because lines of sight are often close to *zero*. This being NYC where drivers are always in “go” mode, you stand a good chance of being rear-ended by another turning car if you do that, and then being pushed into the paths of any crossing pedestrians anyway. There is simply no functionally safe way to make turns at many intersections these days because we’ve allowed vehicles to park right up to the corner at far too many intersections. As I said in my previous post, storing private property on city streets should end where the safety of others begins. Let people complain, but there should be a citiwide campaign of daylighting intersections (no parking for at least 50 feet before the intersection, better yet 100 feet) complete with sidewalk extensions and/or bollards. That’s the only sure way tragedies like this will be prevented in the future. Our current sub-par treatment of intersections is an accident waiting to happen. So is our over dependence on traffic signals but that’s another topic entirely.

  • MAtt B

    Joe R. – You can’t seriously write that you should not slow to an appropriate speed while turning because of the fear that someone will wrongfully rear-end you, could you?  Besides, the way not to get pushed into the intersection is not to turn your wheels until you are free to progress through the intersection.

    I surely agree re: daylighting all intersections. Removing parking is such a huge issue. Hopefully DOT can make it happen to improve safety. 1 life lost is too many.

  • carma

    @Andrew_J_C:disqus 
    That is oversimplistic.  Yes, you are right, if you have the cross signal, you should not have to fear of being mowed down by a car.
    in this case, the child probably darted from outside the pending crosswalk into the crosswalk.  The perpendicular parked cars did not help the sight lines.  in this case, it is truly an accident

    i think a slower speed would not have helped the situation, but a better sightline of the crosswalk would have.

  • Joe R.

    @429469eaac79cdb7d167f1094ae35e34:disqus I just want to clarify that I didn’t say you shouldn’t slow to an appropriate speed when turning. The problem is that in many cases just slowing isn’t good enough to see crossing pedestrians in time due to cars parked too close to corners. You would need to come to a complete stop, and that’s where you run the risk of being rear-ended by an impatient driver. As I said, and you agree, we really need to daylight intersections.

  • Andrew

    @d8d46f16f380afef59ca318522397233:disqus @2555783a6f62598b6aadd2d882a4830f:disqus I have no problem with daylighting, but today most intersections don’t have daylighting, and reducing parking is often an uphill battle.

    I’ve driven many miles, across many intersections, and I seriously don’t see the issue. Slow down as much as necessary (it doesn’t require stopping) to have a complete view of the crosswalk and to be able to stop if somebody steps into the crosswalk. Unless you’re suddenly braking from 50 to 5, which I hope you’re not doing on a city street, the chances of your being rear ended as you slow down to make a turn are virtually nil – especially if you signal your turn.

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