No Charges Filed as Six Are Killed by NYC Drivers in Seven Days

A Brooklyn woman who was struck by a truck driver in Red Hook Wednesday was the latest victim among six city pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in the last week.

Lillian Cruz, hit by the driver of a tractor-trailer in Red Hook Wednesday, was at least the fifth pedestrian killed by a city motorist since Ray Kelly announced changes to the NYPD crash investigation squad. Image: News12 via ##http://gothamist.com/2013/03/13/woman_killed_by_tractor-trailer_in.php##Gothamist##

At approximately 6:40 a.m. yesterday, Lillian Cruz, 60, was crossing Hamilton Avenue at Court Street when the signal changed and the driver of a tractor-trailer, westbound on Hamilton and stopped at the light, accelerated and ran her over, according to NYPD.

Cruz, of Bushwick, died at the scene. The driver was summonsed for failure to exercise due care.

Cruz was at least the second pedestrian killed by a semi truck driver in the last two weeks, following the February 28 death of 6-year-old Amar Diarrassouba. Tractor-trailer drivers have killed at least three other pedestrians on city streets since last August, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. The victims include Ignacio Cubano, Ken Baker, and Jessica Dworkin.

Many of the trucks involved in these fatal collisions are too long to be operated on surface streets without a permit. Despite recent deaths, the presence of trucks in areas that should normally be off-limits has not been a focus of NYPD or the media.

The type of collision that killed Cruz is supposed to be prevented by crossover mirrors, which allow drivers of large trucks to see directly in front of them. It is not known whether the truck was equipped with the mirrors. Trucks registered outside New York are exempt from the mirror requirement.

Monday evening at around 8 p.m., 75-year-old Roberto Baez was struck by the driver of a Nissan in the Bronx. Baez was crossing Soundview Avenue mid-block near Taylor Avenue when he was killed, a police spokesperson said. No summonses were issued.

Monday morning, 16-year-old Tenzin Drudak was among several people hit by a curb-jumping motorist near LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City. Drudak was killed and four others were injured. NYPD told the media the driver was speeding and reaching for a carton of milk when the crash occurred. Nevertheless, no charges were filed.

Andrew Quinn, 22, was struck by and hit-and-run driver on Twelfth Avenue at W. 23rd Street early Saturday morning.

Two drivers hit and killed 49-year-old cyclist Victor Lopez in Borough Park before dawn on Friday, March 8. Both drivers remained at the scene, and “no criminality” was suspected.

Last Thursday evening, an unidentified 55-year-old woman was run over by the driver of a QM3 bus in Oakland Gardens in Queens. “A police investigation has determined that there was no criminality,” said the Daily News.

Last week, Commissioner Ray Kelly informed the City Council that NYPD would increase the number of investigators assigned to serious traffic crashes. Unknown is whether more investigations will translate to more penalties for reckless drivers and, therefore, safer streets for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists. Judging by what we’ve seen since Kelly made his announcement, the department has yet to make a substantive change in how it approaches traffic deaths and injuries.

  • Delivery Cyclist

    ”For too long, we’ve been on streets that look like the wild wild west,” said City Council member James Vacca about not this.

  • I can recall crossing Hamilton during the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative ride last year.  The signal phase was so short, I felt rushed crossing it by *bike.*  Imagine how this 60 year old woman felt when the light turned red on her and the truck headed right for her. 

    Does the driver claim s/he could not see the victim because she was in the blind spot directly in front of the cab?  If so, was the truck required to have crossover mirrors? 

    I’m very glad that Transportation Alternatives succeeded in enacting Diego & Haley’s Law a few years ago, so that drivers like this would get hit with more than just a $150 ticket.  It’s up to $750 and up to 15 days in jail.  I wonder what the actual penalty will be.  I also wonder whether the DMV will take action against the driver’s license.

  • KeNYC2030

    New and improved Collision Investigation Squad: go to scene, perform investigation, exonerate driver, go home.  Nice work if you can get it.   

  • Adam Anon

    Average New Yorker doesn’t care and NYPD knows that. Nothing will change beyond empty words.

  • Anonymous

    “The type of collision that killed Cruz is supposed to be prevented by” ADVANCE STOP BARS that place a truck far enough back from the crosswalk that the driver can see people WITHOUT NEEDING MIRRORS.  (emphasis ADDED!)

    Advance stop bars went in after two kids were crushed at 3rd Ave and 9th St Bklyn.

    Was there an advance stop bar at this intersection?  Did the driver stop at it, or well beyond it?  If there is none or it’s worn out, that’s DOT’s fault.  If there was an advance stop bar, then the police should be determining where the truck stopped, and whether the crosswalk could be seen.  Either the driver could see, and is at fault for not looking; or the stop bar is too close to the crosswalk and should be relocated further back.

    Either way, there has been a total lack of education and enforcement about stopping at the advanced stop bars, and not half way across the cross walks.

  • She was not in a crosswalk. At that intersection there is only a crosswalk on the west side. The picture is looking south. The truck was moving west. In the picture that means the truck was stopped at the left side of the picture. Then headed towards the right side of the picture. Her body was pushed into the intersection. She was probably directly in front of the truck, and very close to it when the light changed.

    So in this case, the advance stop bar was the entire intersection, had she been crossing where she should have been.

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