National Guard Says It Is Not Investigating Fatal Chinatown Crash

The National Guard says NYPD was leading the convoy involved in the November 6 crash that killed 82-year-old Kwok Fu, shown here parked on Centre Street. A witness told Streetsblog that he saw no escort, and there has been no mention of an escort in other published witness accounts. Photo: Ben Fried

Accounts of last week’s fatal crash in Chinatown do not match that of the National Guard, which insists a convoy was following an NYPD escort when the driver of one of the trucks struck an elderly man on Canal Street after reportedly running a red light. The National Guard is not conducting its own investigation into the crash, according to a spokesperson.

The convoy was on its way to the Javits Center to pick up Sandy relief supplies on the afternoon of November 6 when Kwok Fu, 82, was killed as he attempted to cross Canal at Centre Street. Witnesses said convoy truck drivers did not slow down and gave no warning before running a series of red lights on Canal.

National Guard spokesperson Eric Durr said the convoy was following a route set by NYPD, in keeping with protocol for moving troops through urban areas, though he did not know its point of origin. Protocol may vary depending on guidance from the convoy commander and local police, Durr said, but he indicated that it is normal for a convoy to disregard traffic signals, even on a relief mission in an American city.

“Generally a convoy tries to stay together, and that is why there’s a police escort. Stop and think: When the president is in town he has a police escort, right? Does he go through red lights?”

“We can’t just drive around on our own,” Durr said. “We have to coordinate with police. They’ll set up the routes. They send the police escorts. In this case I know there was a police escort, because the convoy commander said ‘I had a police escort.'”

Durr said he does not know how the crash occurred, but believes Fu was struck by the third truck in the 11-vehicle convoy. “The gentleman stepped out from the sidewalk and the driver unfortunately could not stop in time,” said Durr. “That is my understanding.”

The presence of a police escort has yet to be corroborated by witness or media reports. Nor is it clear why, if lights and sirens were blaring, the victim would have stepped into a procession of military trucks.

David Trimble saw the collision, and told Streetsblog he was nearly hit by one of the trucks himself.

“[I]t was not immediately clear that this convoy of trucks was not going to stop at the red light,” Trimble said. “There were no blaring horns, sirens, or anything else. The pedestrian was not jaywalking or trying to beat the convoy.”

“I did not see a police escort,” Trimble said.

The National Guard is not investigating the crash, said Durr, who referred related questions to NYPD.

Streetsblog has queried NYPD concerning the status of its investigation and the National Guard’s claim that the convoy was proceeding with a police escort. We have asked City Council Member Margaret Chin, who represents the Chinatown district where Fu was killed, if she has information on the police investigation.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office does not comment on vehicular crimes or traffic crash investigations.

  • SGreenberg

    I watched a convoy of three very large vehicles all go through a red light turning from Nevins Street to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.  It’s not really clear to me why they had to go through the light, since they were stuck in traffic (and a light) at the next corner.  Maybe they were afraid of being lost in the scary wilds of Boerum Hill.  No police escort, lots of honking horns though.  

  • J

    Sandy killed about 43 people in NYC. The relief effort has now killed at least one more.

  • Anonymous

    “We can’t just drive around on our own”. Why not? Have you considered hiring/recruiting someone who can drive “on their own”? And don’t start with silly stories that “convoys MUST stay together”. That makes sense in a war zone, but not in Chinatown. Even if a truck gets “lost” and arrives a little later, that’s way better than killing civilians due to reckless driving.

  • m352

    You’re goddamn right I ordered the code red.

  • moocow

    Don’t worry National Guard,  we can’t get the NYPD to investigate a traffic deaths either

  • Anonymous

    What the hell was the hurry for?  When you as a ped see a walk signal and no vehicle immediately entering the crosswalk, you go.  You do not wait for approaching traffic to stop.  It is assumed they will stop as the law and common practice requires.  

  • Eric McClure

    Sorry, no one has ever so much as dinged a US Military vehicle in New York City with and IED.  We need different rules.  This was a peacetime relief effort in America’s most densely populated city, not a wartime mission under hostile fire in Ramadi or Helmand Province.  NOT acceptable.

  • Eric McClure

    Sorry, no one has ever so much as dinged a US Military vehicle in New York City with and IED.  We need different rules.  This was a peacetime relief effort in America’s most densely populated city, not a wartime mission under hostile fire in Ramadi or Helmand Province.  NOT acceptable.

  • Miles Bader

    “We were just following procedure… proceeeeeeeeeedure.”

  • Miles Bader

    “We were just following procedure… proceeeeeeeeeedure.”

  • Andrew

    In this case I know there was a police escort, because the convoy commander said ‘I had a police escort.’

    Yet witnesses said otherwise. Given that somebody died, might it not make sense to look into those conflicting statements to try to determine what really happened and how to prevent another death?

  • Brad, according to this helpful flow chart, this death is indeed an “Army accident.”

    https://safety.army.mil/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=gQj-ajV5gBM%3d&tabid=467

    According to this page, this death is a Class A accident (injury and/or occupational illness results in a fatality or permanent total disability).

    https://safety.army.mil/accidentreporting/REGULATIONSGUIDANCE/ArmyAccidentClassificationChart/tabid/470/Default.aspx

    DA Pamphlet 385-40, Army Accident Investigation and Reporting, lays out what’s necessary to complete an Army Ground Accident Report (AGAR) for a Class A accident. Go to page 137 to read up on the kind of investigation that’s required.

    Don’t let these people snow you. The Army has to investigate this by regulations.

  • ArmyVet

    The soldier driving the truck is an amazing soldier, I know him personally, served overseas with him. I don’t care what you all think,  an 82 year old man shouldn’t walk out in the middle of a convoy and maybe he should have used a cross walk, it’s a horrible thing what happened and I feel bad and pray for the family of the elderly man killed. But you media hungry people need to think about how this soldier may be feeling, I am sure its eating him up, and I am sure the last thing he wanted was to kill this man…more so after spending a year at war for our country. You need to stop to think about whom you’re talking about, this man is a hero and he was involved in an accident…how would you feel if you defended your country for a year and had an accident like this and the very people you fought to protect bad mouthed you…this is a horrible incident to everyone involved and anyone with a closed mind should be ashamed.

  • ArmyVet, having an honest investigation and trial is exactly how we are supposed to “stop and think” as a civil society. It’s how we figure out what happened, and what fair consequences are, if any are warranted.

    Nobody is in this to hurt the driver’s feelings, but seriously: is that the most important thing at stake?

  • Andrew

    I am sure the driver is an amazing person. But he made a mistake that killed somebody.

    The 82 year old man was most likely unaware that he was in a combat zone. (For that matter, so was I.) He crossed the street with the light, probably in the crosswalk, expecting conflicting traffic to stop for the red light.
    Nobody said that “he wanted … to kill this man.” But the fact remains that he could have stopped for the light, but he did not, and as a result a man died. I don’t place all of the blame on his shoulders. The National Guard should have different procedures for operating in peaceful cities than for operating in active combat zones. I would like to see procedures changed so that this does not happen again. Do you find that objectionable?

    I suggest you read this comment by jrab.

  • John

    There should be mass protests about this.

  • Anonymous

    Keep the US army out of NYC.  It’s bad enough that we have to put up with occupation by the NYPD.

  • Joe R.

    @J_12:disqus I’ll take the US Army over the NYPD any day. At least the army doesn’t go around ticketing cyclists for bs and/or nonexistent offences. Hopefully after this incident they’ll seriously rethink procedure when doing peacetime operations in US cities. Every driver in the convoy should be given the route in case the convoy becomes separated for whatever reason. And if the convoy runs red lights, the trucks should be equipped with sirens and lights just like other emergency vehicles.

  • Sharapova

    This article is fake!

  • Sharapova

    This page was modified recently.

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