Cyclist Emma Blumstein Killed by Truck Driver in Brooklyn, No Charges Filed

Photo: CrownHeights.info

The cyclist killed Tuesday by a truck driver on Bedford Avenue has been identified by NYPD as Emma Blumstein, 24.

Based on NYPD’s description of the crash, Blumstein was the victim of a left cross. According to police, Blumstein was traveling south on Bedford, while the driver was northbound on Bedford and turning left onto Empire Boulevard. Bedford Avenue has bike lanes in both directions at this location.

The crash occurred at approximately 11:27 yesterday morning. From CrownHeights.info:

The driver, who was visibly shaken, told CrownHeights.info that “she was just coming so fast and I was already into the turn; I just could not stop”.

The victim was run over by both the front and rear tires of the truck, and was pronounced dead at the scene by Hatzolah.

Photos from CrownHeights.info show NYPD crash investigators at the scene. “No criminality is suspected,” according to NYPD.

This fatal crash occurred in the 71st Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Deputy Inspector John Lewis, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 71st Precinct council meetings happen at 7:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at M.S. 61, 400 Empire Boulevard. Call the precinct at 718-735-0527 for information.

The City Council district where Emma Blumstein was killed is represented by Mathieu Eugene. To encourage Eugene to take action to improve street safety in his district and citywide, contact him at 212-788-7352, mathieu.eugene@council.nyc.gov or @MathieuEugene.

Photo: CrownHeights.info
  • IsaacB

    To all friends and family of Emma. May you be comforted among all those who mourn.

    To all the people who want the pictures down. Please understand. This site exists in part because too many people who we “know and love” have been killed on the road with no justice done. It’s traumatic to see a crash picture and know that someone you know is under it. But lots of us have been there. We’ve said goodbye to friends and family. We’ve put up memorials. We protest and lobby. The way I see it, the people who gain the most from these pictures, and stories, disappearing are those who would like to maintain the status quo.

  • Ian Turner

    Douchier: According to the Crown Heights story, the cyclist was traveling straight on Bedford, while the truck was turning off Bedford. Since the traffic signal at this intersection does not have a protected turn phase, that means that the cyclist had the right-of-way.

  • Enough is Enough

    Maybe if her name had been Emma Bloomberg, Ray Kelly’s NYPD investigators would take a closer look at what really happened here and hold the driver accountable for his failure-to-yield to another vehicle with the right-of-way.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Okay, folks, this is galling but not at all surprising….
    I called Dykes Lumber HQ at the number suggested below.
    Here’s the conversation I had with Charlie, a PR guy or manager (not sure) with Dykes Lumber.
    (Charlie) “Hello this is Charlie.”
    (Ben) “Hi, this is Ben Kintisch, I’m calling about a cyclist who was killed the other day by one of your drivers.”
    (Charlie….agitated…) “Who are you?”
    (Ben) “I live in the neighborhood and I’m wondering why we haven’t heard from your company about the accident?”
    (Charlie) “I think the professionals are taking care of it.”
    (Ben) “The police aren’t taking care of it. There have been no charges filed. Do you think there was a crime?”
    (Charlie) “No. I wasn’t there.”
    (Ben) “Do you want to make a comment or statement?”
    (Charlie) “Like I said, I wasn’t there. I’m not going to comment.”

    Total absence of contrition, apology, empathy anything. Emma’s family must be totally devastated, I’m sure. I wonder what they might think about Dyke’s Lumber acting like nothing happened. I guess it’s just following the example of Kelly’s NYPD.

  • IsaacB

    Ben: I wouldn’t read too much into Dykes’ response. Like anywhere else, there are probably individuals at Dykes who feel bad, others to whom it’s just another accident in NYC and a few who are thinking “why couldn’t the girl let the truck turn?”. As a business (primary responsibility is to their investors), they are probably instructed by their lawyers to say as little as possible and not feed the publicity machine, lest it get used against them the story gets perpetuated and juries get prejudiced. They also would not want to encourage inquiries from every member of the public.

  • carma

    @Ben_Kintisch:disqus 
    I dont know what the purpose of that call was, but why should you find it galling?
    First off, you are instigating to Charlie that it was a crime with this kind of questioning.
    “(Ben) “The police aren’t taking care of it. There have been no charges filed. Do you think there was a crime?”
    Do you think Dykes Lumber would actually admit to any crime?

    More so, yes, the driver appeared to be in the wrong by not yielding to oncoming traffic, however, crime it was not.  it was against vehicular code, but it certainly was not an intended killing as unfortunate as this sounds.

    Second why would Charlie say anything to you, someone he doesnt know.  And most importantly, was Charlie aware that his conversation would be posted online?

  • Seems like that unless their was a dedicated turn signal, most left cross accidents are the fault of the turning driver.  They have to yield to oncoming traffic.

  • Ian Turner

    Carma, vehicular homicide is, in fact, a crime.

  • carma

    @7c177865bd107a919938355fe93de93a:disqus 
    Yes, vehicular homicide is a crime.  thank you for enlightening us with that, but this is not vehicular homicide which usually involves intention or gross negligence.

    Speeding can be classified under this.  road racing.  Texting chatting on the phone can also attribute to negligence, as well as DUI.  a mistake in yielding right of way is NOT gross negligence, but poor driving ability.

    hence this is NOT a crime. 

  • Fixit6219

    A left cross turn that kills a pedestrian is clearly the fault of the driver of that vehicle. Obviously not looking where they were going!!! And the fact that both the front and back tires went over the poor girl before the driver stopped proves my statement even more!!
    A small truck like that should have been able to stop even if the pedestrian was moving quickly or not!! If they were paying attention to driving!! She was in the prime of her life and speaking as a cousin to the victim, she will be dearly missed!!

  • KeNYC2030

    Look at the right-side mirror on the Dykes truck.  It looks to me like it is angled toward the passenger-side window, making it impossible for the driver to see a vehicle to his right.  Do the cops even check such details at the scene?   

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps Charlie got agitated because he thought Ben was a lawyer for the victim’s family, planing to sue them for wrongful death. Or maybe he thought Ben was a reporter. It is in the company’s self-interest to say as little as possible to prevent their statements from being used as an admission of guilt.

  • Anonymous

    @d8d46f16f380afef59ca318522397233:disqus And the comprehensive investigation proving to you that there was no texting, no DUI, no road racing in this case–where is that exactly? 

  • JW

    @carma – Sooo, speeding is gross negligence but running someone over with both wheels of your truck in broad daylight isn’t? That doesn’t make any sense. The driver’s quote says it all. The good news is that the driver and Dykes Lumber Company will be sued into oblivion.

  • carma

    @dporpentine:disqus 

    stop trying to find a fault to link.  yes, that IS the job of the police.  but lets be realistic.  A delivery truck is NOT going to be road racing.  DUI is not likely if the guy is sober enough to stop and stay at the scene and give some sort of statement.

    texting, umm.. maybe.  and i think a subpoena of the phone logs SHOULD be done.  that is something the police DO need to do.  which yes, i doubt has been done.

    the fact is there really is not much evidence to point to a crime.

    however, the family DOES have every right to sue for monetary damages and should.  and they should.  not that it would provide much justice.  

  • Jesse Greene

    The fact that this is not a crime is just another symptom of the problem.  It speaks volumes about our priorities that the culture doesn’t classify these reckless and irresponsible acts, motivated by selfishness and impatience, and that routinely result in the deaths of others, as criminal.

  • Anonymous

    @d8d46f16f380afef59ca318522397233:disqus Oh, I see: the guy’s position exonerates him from road racing and staying at the scene and being able to talk eliminate DUI. The NYPD should just hire you to do the “investigations” remotely!

    And, frankly, I call bs on the idea that delivery truck drivers don’t road race. Maybe he wasn’t out and out drag racing somebody, but I know from experience that delivery truck drivers often seem to get angry at me for showing up next to them at light after light and eventually they just gun their engine down a block (and often blow red lights) in order to “win” the race they’re having with me in their head.

    Still, I’m delighted you at least concede that texting is possible. And that you’ve gone from  “hence this is NOT a crime” to ” not much evidence to point to a crime.” I look forward to further evolution on your part.

  • carma

    @14a8960ffa19c6b0ffff4264aba1f641:disqus 
    The problem with this statement is that its too broad to classify every accident as a crime.  As in the case of a child darting out in the street and gets killed. has the driver automatically committed a crime?

    The truth is that motor vehicles are dangerous objects and using them needs utmost caution.  however, there are going to be instances when accidents WILL happen regardless of how careful the driver may be.

    rather than force a label of criminal behavior to any accident, wouldnt it be more effective to make licensing of a motor vehicle more difficult so that you have to be a really good and attentive driver in order to operate a motor vehicle.  as it stands, the road tests in the US are a joke.

  • carma

    @dporpentine:disqus 

    in this case, you have to rule out the scenarios which dont make this case a criminal vehicular negligent situation.

    since this was a turn, it is highly unlikely the truck would be speeding over 30mph.  there is a possibility that the truck is turning to fast, but certainly not speeding.

    road racing is unlikely also given that this was not a contest of beating a light, drag racing, cutting off another driver, as the truck was in the process of a turn.

    DUI is also unlikely as i mentioned.

    the only remote possibility of a crime may be the phone/text.  yes, i would like the police to subpoena phone records.  but lets be honest, it is unlikely that the driver would be charged with any crime.

    i do blame poor driving in this horrible case, but as i said, crime it is not.

    also, remember, that being cleared from criminal negligence still doesnt excuse the driver from other penalties such as being sued.

    and in my opinion, the family SHOULD sue.

  • Anonymous

     There does not appear to be any conflict about two key points: that the
    truck was northbound on Bedford making a left turn onto Empire; and that
    the cyclist was southbound on Bedford traveling straight across the
    intersection.

    To the best of my knowledge, this was an experienced cyclist who should
    have been clearly visible riding south in the roadway. Visibility up
    Bedford Ave from the left turn pocket should have been excellent, and
    there has been nothing in the reports to indicate that the truck driver’s
    view up Bedford was in any way blocked.

    As traffic law is clear that left turning traffic MUST yield to all
    straight through traffic, there is no question that the truck driver
    made an error in turning while there was oncoming traffic. The cyclist
    had the right of way through this intersection. Unless some quite
    different facts are discovered, the only question here is what sort of
    error the driver made.

    The need for the Police to perform a professional investigation is not
    simply to lay blame, but to determine what sort of errors caused this
    fatal crash – it was not an accident – so that measures can be taken to
    prevent these crashes and deaths in the future. Those measures involve engineering, education and enforcement/laws.
    Zero traffic deaths, not punishment, is
    the goal.

    Punishment is only a tool to “encourage”
    drivers to pay full attention to driving safely.  But there must be legal punishment with the full follow through by the police, DA and courts, if our laws are to have any reality.

    Letting the parking meter run out is a violation.  Operating a motor vehicle in a way that kills someone, or is likely to kill someone, is a crime.  If this is not a crime, it’s a crime that it’s not a crime.  🙁

    Civil penalties are simply a “buy your way out of jail” cost of doing business.  Civil penalties won’t get dangerous drivers off the street and they won’t encourage the marginal drivers to clean up their acts.

    This intersection has
    features that should have prevented this crash.
    There is good
    visibility in all directions. Bedford Ave has left turn pocket lanes
    where left turning traffic can wait quietly until oncoming traffic has
    cleared the intersection. Left turning drivers are not pressured by
    straight through traffic behind them, straight through cars have their
    own lane.

    There are suggestions of a left turn signal, but normally, that is needed
    to clear backups of left turning vehicles, and would be needed if
    southbound Bedford traffic was so heavy that left turning traffic never
    got a clear roadway. There does not appear to be backups at this
    intersection. Rather, it appears that the truck driver simply did not
    want to wait for the cyclist to pass before starting the turn. Traffic
    signals alone cannot force a driver to stop the truck, the driver has to want
    to stop.

    It appears that the solution to the critical problem here is driver
    education, backed up by effective enforcement. Drivers need to know the
    law and the practical rules of the road, and then follow them with full
    attention to their driving, and with respect for other road users, even for women
    traveling on bicycles.

  • LN

    Confronting the violence of the streets is one thing, being totally disrespectful of the fallen cyclist and her family to get hits on your blog is another. Graphic photos and descriptions of crashes is sensationalist and hurtful to survivors and loved ones. I have written this same plea to newspapers and blogs so many times.. You want a photo of the person that was killed? Ask the family – and please make it editorial policy here to be more respectful and not to show corpses under sheets and tarps on this blog – really, why should I have to ask and explain here? Take the photo down!

  • Anonymous

    LN – Since the NYPD refuses to perform a professional crash investigation, photos of the crash scene are critical for the rest of us to evaluate what happened, why it happened and what to do about.  Not everyone has a morbid curiosity.  Some of us have professional skills in traffic engineering and crash evaluation.  The photos in the news articles along with Google Maps Streetviews are invaluable in determining what was likely to have happened. 

    Perhaps my time in Vietnam has made me both less and more sensitive to needless deaths, but these pictures are not photo-ops, they are evidence to be used to prevent this from happening again.  The only way these photos would be useless is if you consider the death to have been a tragic, unavoidable accident.  So long as Ray Kelly and his NYPD refuse to investigate, we must use all the data we have.  Even when the police take responsibility for investigations, the public needs to perform oversight to ensure that there is no backsliding by cops, DAs and courts.   Accidents “happen”, Crashes can be prevented.

    As I said before, our attainable goal should be Zero Tolerance for Traffic Deaths.  Finding out what happened is the best, and probably the only way to change things so we get to Zero Deaths. 

  • Anonymous

    LN – Since the NYPD refuses to perform a professional crash investigation, photos of the crash scene are critical for the rest of us to evaluate what happened, why it happened and what to do about.  Not everyone has a morbid curiosity.  Some of us have professional skills in traffic engineering and crash evaluation.  The photos in the news articles along with Google Maps Streetviews are invaluable in determining what was likely to have happened. 

    Perhaps my time in Vietnam has made me both less and more sensitive to needless deaths, but these pictures are not photo-ops, they are evidence to be used to prevent this from happening again.  The only way these photos would be useless is if you consider the death to have been a tragic, unavoidable accident.  So long as Ray Kelly and his NYPD refuse to investigate, we must use all the data we have.  Even when the police take responsibility for investigations, the public needs to perform oversight to ensure that there is no backsliding by cops, DAs and courts.   Accidents “happen”, Crashes can be prevented.

    As I said before, our attainable goal should be Zero Tolerance for Traffic Deaths.  Finding out what happened is the best, and probably the only way to change things so we get to Zero Deaths. 

  • Anonymous

    @d8d46f16f380afef59ca318522397233:disqus The truth is that motor vehicles are dangerous objects and using them needs utmost caution.  however, there are going to be instances when accidents WILL happen regardless of how careful the driver may be.

    But, in this instance, we know based on the undisputed facts that the driver wasn’t careful.  Hitting on-coming traffic while turning left, is negligence, clear as day.  The driver’s negligence was the cause of Ms. Blumstein’s unfortunate death.  

    There are many accidents where I’d be sympathetic to the views your advocating.  However, , this isn’t one of them.  The driver should be lambasted.  That the driver didn’t intentionally kill Ms. Blumstein is a red herring.  Gross negligence and disregard for human life, can substitute for the intent element in a murder charge 

    § 125.25 Murder in the second degree.
    A person is guilty of murder in the second degree when:
    . . . Under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life, he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person, and thereby causes the death of another person. . . .
    http://law.onecle.com/new-york/penal/PEN0125.25_125.25.html@Ben_Kintisch:disqus It's not surprising that they were like that with you. Those employers will be sued for wrongful death. If I were their lawyer, I’d caution them to say nothing. Since the killer was on the job and acting within the scope of their employment, the employer is legally responsible under principles of respondent superior.Unfortunately, getting money from the Lumber company will do nothing to bring back Ms. Blumberg. The fucked up part, is that, the city doesn’t give a shit. They’d rather dedicated resources to investigating Muslims and OWS then keeping people safe from street violence. To all her friends who are pissed about the picture, please channel that anger into helping make the streets safer for all people, in the hope that her memory could be used to save people’s lives. Every-time you hear someone bitching about those “crazy bikers”, call them out and let them know, bikes have killed 1 person in the last 15 years meanwhile cars and trucks kill more people in this city than guns! Call out your elected politicians who favor parking and “keeping traffic flowing” and who demonize protected bike lanes. Think about it, this driver saw someone coming, and still turned left . . . they made a conscious decision to turn because they didn’t give a shit. And now your friend is gone and the city will not do a f—ing thing. One thing the city does respond to are protests and lawsuits, so bring it on. Make the city have to respond and do their job. Advocate a rebut-able presumption of strict liability in any car on bike accident (meaning, any accident between a car and bike is presumed the fault of the driver unless rebutted by evidence) (this is the law in Holland). You better believe such a law would alter driver’s behavior and if such a law was on the books, Ms. Blumberg, Mrs. Dershowitz, Mathiew Lafeuve, Rasha Shamoon and countless others who’ve lost their lives too soon, would be with us today .

  • LN

    If you want photos of the crash, follow the link- streetsblog rarely has any original content – it was taken from elsewhere.

    We are talking about respect here, on streetsblog and following the wishes of the family and friends.

  • moocow

    That photo really bothers me too, it powerfully and sadly shows a result of the ignored traffic violence on our streets.  It shows that a young woman was stolen from us, I feel the loss even though I did not know her.   It’s painful but important to not hide that this woman was taken from us, and nothing is being done to dissuade driver’s actions which cause these crashes.  Those of you who knew her, I can’t imagine your pain, but these images need to trigger response in more people that such crashes cannot keep happening.  And happening without recourse for those that cause them. Again, I too, am bothered with her death, my thoughts are with her family and those that knew her.

  • Driver

    LN, the wishes of the family and friends are the same wishes as the publishers and readers of Streetsblog; for this tragedy to have never occurred in the first place.   The goal of Streetsblog, at least to this reader, is to generate awareness and positive change , not “hits”.   One of the issues addressed on this blog is the lack of investigation and availability of information from tragedies like this one.  While it is understandable that these photos are upsetting to the family, they paint a picture of what happened and why the driver is as fault.  As a regular reader, I can say the the publishers mean no disrespect and are not looking to sensationalize this tragedy.

  • Ronnie

    Would you please take down the photo of the “Dykes Lumber” truck? It must be distressing to Dykes’ customers, workers and owners to have its name associated with this tragedy.

  • Ronnie

    Would you please take down the photo of the “Dykes Lumber” truck? It must be distressing to Dykes’ customers, workers and owners to have its name associated with this tragedy.

  • Right of way

    It must be even more distressing for the victim’s family that she was killed by a dyke’s lumber truck when she clearly had the right of way. Perhaps dyke’s should use this as an opportunity to better educate it’s drivers on the rules of the road.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll hug your mother for you tomorrow at Shiva Emma.  You were a sweet, beautiful, young woman who will be missed.  And it doesn’t really matter right now who is at fault, you are gone.  All of us who love you or your family are suffering more than most people could ever imagine.  Rest in peace Emma, those you left behind will accept and suffer your pains for you.

  • 1862mintwood

    forget taking down the picture of the truck! take down the picture of the body under a tarp!!! have some sensitivity to the family

  • I know this will get lost in all these comments but looking at the intersection in Streetsview would seem to indicate that there is a bike lane in the downhill direction.  If that was the case it might have been better and ultimately safer for cyclist if NYCDoT used a Sharrow in the downhill direction as cyclists will be traveling at or close to the speed limit.  This would make them more visible to oncoming traffic and also leave them less susceptible to “doorings” and right hooks from same direction drivers.  Uphill, a “climbing” bike lane would appropriate.

    Sharrows are used in Portland in the downhill direction.  It also replicates and therefor teaches the Vehicular Cycling technique of “taking the lane’ when traveling at higher speeds.

  • Guest

    Emma went to my high school and was a cheerful, upbeat, and memorable person, always with a smile on her face.  Her loss so young is a tragedy, and seeing these pictures are shocking and believe the first is graphic and should be removed out of respect for her family.

  • Anonymous

    @2995d81157fecd50fe4b728419a38787:disqus I can see why, in the abstract, that argument would make a lot of sense. But even setting aside my usual distaste for advocating “taking the lane” in the actual city of New York, I don’t think that particular spot is a place for mixing car and bike traffic through sharrows.  There’s simply too much chaotic speeding, double parking, and even greater than normal amounts of impatience right there, since that part of Bedford  connects one major thoroughfare (Eastern Parkway) to another (Empire Boulevard) and funnels an awful lot of people into more southern parts of Brooklyn. It’s a hellish road and my sense is that the only way bikes can eek out a tiny bit of respect on it is to have that dedicated lane.

  • Divorahhazan200

    omg my sister wa ther right by the accident

  • FB

    To Ben Fried; If you had pictures without the tarp would that help us understand the violence better? I think your zealotry for your mission lacks humanity

  • Joe R.

    @2995d81157fecd50fe4b728419a38787:disqus Even if a bike lane is present, a cyclist still has the option of taking the lane when traveling at high speeds. In fact, when I’m on similar downgrades to those shown in the picture, I do exactly that for two reasons. One, I want to be well away from the door zone since there’s no way I can anticipate an opening car door well enough in advance to avoid it at 30+ mph. Two, I want to make myself a lot more visible to cars at intersections because it’s a lot harder to evade unexpected movements by cars at high speeds.
    I do agree wholeheartedly though with dporpentine that taking the lane most of the time in NYC is a really bad idea. The only time I feel comfortable doing so is when I’m moving within 5 mph of motor traffic speed. Most of the time I can only manage this on downgrades.

  • Driver

    FB, crownheights.info had a (blurred) picture of the victim laying in the street without a tarp.  The SB publishers obviously chose not to use that photo. 

  • IsaacB

    Looking at the pictures on the source site, I was struck by something: According to this picture (http://www.crownheights.info/media/mva%20doa%2012/1.JPG), Emma’s body is on the “far” side of Empire. Was Emma moved after being run over? If not, what would explain why a left turning truck would be in that part of the intersection of it executed the turn properly? 

  • Driver

     I don’t think anyone here thinks the driver executed the turn properly.

  • Anonymous

    What a difficult day today was… not a dry eye as her sister, on her knees and crying, sprinkled dirt into the grave with her hands after shunning the shovel.  Drivers everywhere must slow down and stop being in such a hurry.  Nothing is worth this.  That truck driver will have to live with the knowledge that his haste cost an amazing young woman her life.  That must be hell, and he deserves every moment of it; no more punishment is necessary.    

  • tee

    As a experienced cyclist, she should have slowed down and anticipate a cutoff….especially a major street like Empire Boulevard.  Then again, I ride anticipating that a car will run every STOP signs and RED lights.  A sad way to ride but an wise way to ride and live to ride the next day.  Condolences to the young woman and her family

  • Ian Brett Cooper

     “she was just coming so fast and I was already into the turn; I just could not stop”.

    Erm… aren’t you supposed to yield to oncoming traffic when making a left turn?

  • Anonymous

    This is a tragedy. Sounds to me as if he thought the cyclist was going much slower or was much further away. However as a person who lives outside of your state,and only visits relatives in Brooklyn, I’ve got to say that driving in your city is like driving on a different planet with a bunch of maniacs. I don’t know about Brooklyn, but watching cyclists in some other parts of NYC, I can’t help wondering why there are any left alive and evolution hasn’t wiped them out by now. This is about the only city I know where cyclists don’t appear to think that there is anything wrong with thundering across an intersection at breakneck speeds where it would be completely impossible to stop if ANYTHING happened like someone stepping off the sidewalk or something. I’m just surprised this type of accident doesn’t happen more often.

  • Anonymous

    @yahoo-WSJYSVIVZZUENIEGTIDKBLQKHI:disqus @DavidPun:disqus Think for a second what you each did: read an article about a cyclist traveling with the light, perfectly within her legal rights, reasonably expecting others to behave according to a set pattern and in accordance with the law–and your response was to blame her for her death. Your variation, DavidPun, is to exculpate the driver and then talk about *those crazy cyclists*. Your variation, tee, is to pontificate on what an awesome cyclist you are.

    Listen: the driver of the truck was at fault. He saw her, he kept going, he killed her. That’s the only morality tale here: a terrible thing was done by one person, the driver.

  • Scofflaw_Cyclist

    Judging from all the posts on this blog it’s time for laws to change to protect the public . Clearly it is too dangerous to continue to allow cyclists on public roads . Bike lanes can not safely exist with motor vehicles ….

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