Queens Pedestrian Maleka Begum, 54, Killed by Bus Driver Making a Turn

A 54-year-old woman was killed by a bus driver in Jamaica Saturday night.

Maleka Begum was crossing the street at Hillside Avenue and Merrick Boulevard at around 8 p.m. when she was struck by the driver of a Nassau Inter-County Express bus, according to the Daily News.

Maleka Begum. Photo via Daily News

“She was crossing with my sister and the bus just hit her and drove through her body,” said the victim’s tearful son, Motiur Chowdhury, 31. “He shouldn’t drive the bus. He shouldn’t drive at all.”

Police have ruled out criminality on the part of the bus driver, a 52-year-old man, who was turning off Hillside onto Merrick when he hit Begum. Cops were investigating the accident Saturday night.

Witness Mohammed Sarwar, 51, of Rockaway Beach, said Begum had the walk signal and the accident was “100 percent the bus’s fault.”

The driver would have been making a left turn from Hillside onto Merrick, according to a NICE route map. If the driver had a green light and Begum had a walk signal, as the witness indicated, the bus driver killed Begum while violating at least one traffic law. Yet NYPD “ruled out criminality” within hours.

NICE is operated by Veolia Transportation, which replaced Long Island Bus after Nassau County execs decided they didn’t want to pay for MTA bus service. With Veolia routes extending into the city, this crash raises the question of whether the private company’s drivers are as safe mile-per-mile as MTA drivers.

Begum was at least the second city pedestrian this month to be killed by a motorist making a turn. On October 3, Staten Island senior Margaret King, walking in a crosswalk in broad daylight, was fatally struck by a driver who was turning left from a fast food parking lot. As we wrote last week, such deaths are commonplace. But among city pols, notably council transportation chair James Vacca and speaker Christine Quinn, the mounting human toll has yet to arouse a sense of urgency comparable to that elicited by, say, sidewalk bicycling, which normally results in zero fatalities per year.

Had Maleka Begum and Margaret King been killed in collision with cyclists, their names would be on the lips of most every mic-loving elected in the boroughs. But since they died at the hands of careless motorists, like those killed last week and those who will die in days to come, to paraphrase reader dporpentine, they are numbers, not names.

This fatal crash occurred on the border of the 103rd and 107th Precincts. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to the precincts’ respective commanding officers, go to the next precinct community council meeting. Community council information may be found on each precinct’s web page.

The City Council district where Maleka Begum was killed is represented by James Gennaro. To encourage Gennaro to take action to improve street safety in his district and citywide, contact him at 212-788-6956 or jgennaro@council.nyc.gov.

This post has been updated.

  • Voter

    Chris Quinn and James Vacca seem determined to make sure that no person is killed by a cyclist delivering a pizza, and with zero people killed since 2009 they’re obviously doing a wonderful job.  I applaud their zero-tolerance approach to rogue cyclists.

    Meanwhile, we’ll have to wait to see how many dead New Yorkers it takes before they do something about reckless driving. 

    Sorry, Maleka.  Clearly the answer isn’t 125.

  • Yes, Voter, you are quite correct. With this stream of nearly daily deaths at the hands of careless drivers of motor vehicles, it would be all too easy to forget that the real menace in New York is dangerous people delivering Chop Suey.

    I blogged the other week about the kind of strategy that might really reduce road deaths (http://invisiblevisibleman.blogspot.com/2012/10/do-as-you-like-motorists-and-dont-blame.html). It’s a pity the NYPD are still pursuing a strategy that says motorists who plow through pedestrian crossings illegally aren’t breaking the law…

  • KillMoto

    Streetsblog posted awhile back about a degree mill for commercial drivers licenses.  I hope the perps burn in hell. 
    Every time I see a story about a “professional driver” killing someone, I wonder if they were a graduate if “I License U”.  I wonder if there was ever a methodical review of the commercial drivers who got those give-away’s.  I wonder: Did that killer get a legitimate license?  Or did they just pay someone for an answer key.  The difference is literally the difference between murder and manslaughter. 

    And to those who actually performed the steps necessary to get a professional license, and kill people anyway?  Time for a permanent job change.  I suggest pedi-cab operator, because professional drivers who kill should lose all rights to drive.  Can’t drive a bus.  Can’t drive a taxi, or a private car.  You know, hold them to a higher standard.  I realize loss of license < loss of life, but it it is some consequence for not doing the job well, and it's some solace to the family of the dead that the killer no longer has access to his weapon of choice. 

  • Guest

    The driver was making a left from Hillside onto Merrick.  The pattern for that light is: when eastbound traffic gets the red light westbound gets a turn signal.  Pretty much, that light is never red for westbound traffic making a left turn.  

  • Brad Aaron

    @c2dc363c654412596331e8f1dceb173f:disqus Thanks. Looking at the bus route map again, it does indicate a left turn. 
    Oddly, witnesses told the Post the bus driver was turning right.

  • Anonymous

    While you are right that pedestrian killed by cyclist would make headlines and this is completely unfair, the REAL story here is that the DOT could install split signals and they do not. Let’s advocate together for less fatalities and focus on DOT engineers who still think that squeezing one more car through an intersection is more important than one less fatality.

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