Council Member Margaret Chin’s office has joined those calling for a full investigation into the death of Kwok Fu, the 82-year-old man who was struck by the driver of a National Guard truck on Canal Street.
A convoy of National Guard trucks was on its way to the Javits Center to pick up Sandy relief supplies on the afternoon of November 6 when Fu 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 told Streetsblog that the convoy was trailing a police escort. No published accounts of the crash made mention of an escort, and a man who had to step out of the way of the convoy, and who witnessed the collision, told Streetsblog he did not see one.
Durr claims that the National Guard is not investigating the crash, and referred our questions to NYPD, which in characteristic fashion has ignored our query.
After Streetsblog informed a Chin spokesperson that the National Guard has taken no responsibility and that police aren’t talking, the spokesperson said she would contact NYPD “and urge them to fully investigate this incident.”
The National Guard’s refusal to own up to its role and NYPD’s eternal silence are indicative of how city traffic fatalities are handled as a matter of course. This is not lost on the 1,000-plus who have signed an online petition calling for a full investigation into Fu’s death.
That a City Council member would have to ask Ray Kelly’s NYPD to investigate a fatality is a telling indicator of the state of New York City traffic enforcement. Worse still, considering that police have not responded to Dan Garodnick, who made a similar request concerning the crash that killed Upper East Side pedestrian Rubin Baum, it’s not known what if anything such pleas accomplish.
To prod NYPD to take action to ensure justice for Kwok Fu, to help prevent the next traffic fatality, and to hold NYPD accountable for slapdash crash investigations and loosen the department’s grip on crash information, the council will have to act as a body. A first step would be passage of the Crash Investigation Reform Act, which would bring the formation of a multi-agency task force charged with assessing NYPD crash investigation practices and recommending reforms. The package of bills has gone nowhere in the four months since it was introduced.
The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, who is up for reelection in 2013, does not comment on vehicular crimes.