A 7-year-old boy was killed by a truck driver this morning while walking to school in East Harlem. While no charges were filed against the driver, police and media are focused on the actions of a crossing guard, who was reportedly on a break when the crash occurred.
Amar Diarrassouba and his 10-year-old brother were crossing First Avenue at E. 117th Street, east to west, when, according to reports, the westbound driver of a tractor-trailer ran over the younger boy while turning right from 117th to First. The driver was stopped by witnesses some distance away. The Post writes:
“It was crazy. I saw a man chasing the truck on 119th Street,” said neighborhood resident Vinny Brasero, 49.
“I saw the boy, there was just so much blood, I knew he wasn’t going to make it. I couldn’t even get too close because when I saw he wasn’t moving and all that blood, it didn’t look good.”
The victim’s big brother was “hysterical, crying” at the scene, according to Brasero.
“I was crying a little bit because I have kids,” he added.
East 117th Street is a narrow, one-way street. It is not a truck route. Trucks exceeding 55 feet in length, like the one involved in this crash, are not allowed on surface streets without a permit. McClane trucking, which apparently owns the truck, is based in Texas. Trucks registered outside New York are exempt from the state’s crossover mirror requirement. It appears from a Post photo that the truck is not equipped with the mirrors, which allow truck drivers to see what is directly in front of them.
Of all the factors that contributed to this fatality — massive trucks allowed on city streets, a loophole in a state law, the truck driver’s failure to yield to two kids while driving on a neighborhood street not designated for trucks — reports say authorities are investigating why a crossing guard stationed at the intersection was not present at the time of the crash. Naturally, this is the detail the city press corps has zeroed in on.
While NYPD focused on the crossing guard, police defended the driver. From DNAinfo:
“Tractor trailers often have to make very wide turns,” said a police spokesman at the scene. “It’s possible, given the height of the vehicle and the kind of turn he had to make, that he just didn’t see the kid.”
And the Daily News:
“Apparently he didn’t see them,” NYPD spokesman Joseph Cavitolo said of the driver, who was not charged.
Civilians on the scene exhibited a firmer grasp of the elements of the crash than NYPD. Again, from the News:
[Hugo] Skinner, 46, said the truck had no business being on 117th St. He said trucks should be traveling on 116th St., which is a two-way street.
“This is not a commercial street,” he said. “This is a local street. It’s something that’s completely ignored.”
And the Post:
Brasero complained that truck traffic is too dangerous for 117th and First: “This block, 117th, has become a truck route and it’s too narrow a street. Why don’t they use 116th Street?”
This fatal crash occurred in the 25th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Deputy Inspector Nilda Hofmann, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 25th Precinct council meetings happen at 6:30 p.m. on the last Wednesday of the month at various locations. Call 212-860-6526 for information.
The City Council district where Amar Diarrassouba was killed is represented by Melissa Mark-Viverito. Though Mark-Viverito is one of the council’s strongest voices for street safety, it never hurts to alert an elected to dangerous conditions. Mark-Viverito can be reached at 212-788-6960, email@example.com and @MMViverito.