Manhattan DA Cy Vance Investigating Midtown Curb-Jump Crash

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office is investigating Tuesday’s Midtown curb-jump crash, which injured three people, including a woman who lost part of her leg.

Sian Green, a British tourist, was one of three people reported injured by a cab driver in Midtown Tuesday. Photo via Daily News

“The midtown crash has been under investigation by the Vehicular Crimes Unit, including one of the Office’s most senior prosecutors, since it happened yesterday,” wrote Vance spokesperson Erin Duggan in an email to Streetsblog. “The investigation is ongoing.”

Reports identified the driver as Mohammad Himon, a cabbie who the Daily News says had three moving violations in 2011, including citations for speeding and running a red light, resulting in nine points on his license. Late Tuesday morning, according to multiple accounts, Himon rammed a cyclist with his cab, then drove on the sidewalk in front of 1251 Sixth Avenue, at 49th Street, with the cyclist on the hood before striking Sian Green, a British tourist.

FDNY said two victims were transported from the scene. Part of Green’s left leg was severed below the knee. The cyclist was photographed after the crash, standing with a bandaged knee.

The Post cited unnamed “law-enforcement sources” who said Himon “would not be criminally charged.” The Daily News reported today that Himon was issued a summons for “unauthorized use,” which the paper described as “an administrative violation for not submitting a form notifying the Taxi and Limousine Commission that he would be driving that particular cab.”

Paul White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, says the driver should lose his hack license. “This kind of abhorrent behavior must not be tolerated,” White said in a written statement, “and I call on [Taxi and Limousine Commission] Commissioner [David] Yassky to immediately revoke the driver’s ability to operate a cab in New York City.”

After a cab driver killed a senior in the West Village last year, the TLC told Streetsblog that unless a cabbie faces criminal charges, or a consumer files a complaint, the agency has no lawful basis for action against a driver who harms a pedestrian. Potential sanctions include the suspension of a driver’s TLC license, and additional actions can be taken based on the outcome of a case.

“If it is true that the driver was aiming at the cyclist when he accelerated, and continued accelerating after the cyclist was up on the hood, it does not matter that the cyclist was not seriously injured, while Ms. Green was,” says attorney Steve Vaccaro. “Aiming a motor vehicle at a person on a bicycle and deliberately accelerating should support a charge that the driver ‘recklessly engaged in conduct that creates a grave risk of death to another person (the cyclist) and thereby cause[d] serious physical injury to another person (Ms. Green),’ i.e., First Degree Assault, a class B felony.”

“There are certainly other, lesser charges that could be pursued — and, in the end, might reasonably be plea-bargained down to — but based on the facts known now, if the DA’s office announces as the highest charge in the first instance anything less than First Degree Assault, it is in my opinion failing in its mission to enforce the laws.”

Of course, it should go without saying that a traffic crash that causes serious injury would be investigated by the borough district attorney. But the vast majority of injury crashes in NYC are not even investigated by police. Unlike similar instances when a New York City driver has mounted a curb and run bystanders over — crashes that often resulted in death, but were not prosecuted — yesterday’s incident has drawn national and international attention. This is perhaps because celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz was one of the first to attend to Green, who was visiting the city from outside the U.S.

“Tourists no really longer fear getting mugged in NYC,” tweeted “Traffic” author Tom Vanderbilt. “They have every right to fear going out for a walk.”

  • Eric McClure

    The Manhattan DA’s record on prosecuting vehicular crimes is as bad as the NYPD’s when it comes to suspecting criminality. Prove me wrong for once.

    And perhaps Dr. Oz would like to devote one of his TV broadcasts to the dangers of being a pedestrian or cyclist in New York City.

  • Frank Dell

    I’m not holding my breath waiting for Cy Vance to file criminal charges in this case. NYPD & all the borough DAs don’t give a damn about pedestrian and cyclist safety. They prove this fact ever single day of the year.

  • carma

    i hope that criminal charges are eventually filed. i can only hope. its ridiculous that intent to crash into a bicyclist and causing harm to another human is not criminal.

    let it be known, that this was NOT an accident but an INTENDED and DELIBERATE action of the driver.

  • NYC driver ped and cyclist

    In a just world, an attempted murder charge AND a reckless driving charge would result in maximun penalties here (as if he’d shot a gun at someone) AND immediate life ban on driving naturally. If you’re driving a tonne of steel in a crowded city the duty should be on you to make absolutely sure you do not harm others and to prove you were being lawful in the event of an accident – NYC would become so much safer overnight if this was how the law worked…

  • Anonymous

    “Where is the manual that tells us how to investigate pedestrian crashes? It’s gotta be around here somewhere. Anyone?” – Cy Vance

  • Anxiously Awaiting Bikeshare

    Police logic: If this is pursued as a violent crime then the violent crime rate goes up. Better to classify it as an accident and keep the crime rate down.

  • You’re probably right. The solution is to invent a new category of violent traffic crime that is as severe as other violent crime from a punishment perspective, but reported as a separate category, not with all other violent crime.

  • Jared R

    Nearly everyone that heard about the crash via the evening news believes it was the cyclist that cut off the taxi driver, thereby causing the crash. This is so frustrating.

  • guest

    Curious if anyone knows exactly what prevents the TLC from taking action against a reckless taxi driver. Is it a legislative issue, or a contractual issue?

    The TLC should have the power to change the reckless culture amongst taxi drivers. Line up the financial incentives so drivers aren’t rewarded for speeding, and bring real consequences for drivers who get caught acting recklessly.

  • Brad Aaron

    I doubt Vance’s office cares about lame media spin in this case.

  • For the sake of argument let’s say that the cyclist cut the taxi driver off. So what?

    In a civilized world where drivers don’t feel like entitled sociopaths, the end result typically isn’t a taxi careening onto the sidewalk and severely injuring an innocent person 1/4 of the way down the block enjoying a hot dog.

    Either the speed limit is too high in this part of the city, resulting in diminished response time in such situations, or the driver has some sort of anger management problem and couldn’t shrug off being cut off and delayed by a lousy second.

    Humans make mistakes in crowded environments. The punishment shouldn’t be death and dismemberment.

  • Anonymous

    Sadly DA’s appear to care more about media spin than anything else these days.

  • Anonymous

    This is what my coworkers were saying when we talked about it earlier today. Infuriating.

  • Jared R

    It makes me crazy. I tell them what happened and then they’re like “Really? Oh well, that’s not the way the media’s presenting it.” It’s an ingrained institutional bias. It’s not going away for a very long time, or at least once the boomers start dying off.

  • Jesse

    Not to mention that the cabbie´s story on its face is just plain ridiculous. “I meant to hit the brake and instead hit the accelerator.” Forget the fact that every driver has a responsibility to know the difference. It strains credulity to think that he could have somehow forgotten it. 90% of his job is knowing the difference between the brake and the accelerator.

    And yet the media is running with this pathetic flimsy story. How is it that four years after the beginning of the bikelash cyclists and pedestrians still lack humanity in the eyes of most NYC institutions?

  • Daniel

    I saw a cop yell at a taxi driver for cutting off a cyclist today. I also saw three cars pulled over for running red lights. It was refreshing to see. It probably won’t last, but I think the level of traffic law enforcement I saw today would save a lot of lives.

  • Joe R.

    I’m sure after yesterday’s incident the police were doing this to protect their image. They’ll get to tell people “Hey, we don’t just ticket cyclists for violating nonexistent laws. We also protect them from crazy drivers”. I agree, it probably won’t last but I hope it does. Maybe if the police lose their windshield perspective, they’ll start to notice how dangerous it feels out there for anyone not encased in a few tons of metal.

  • Andrew

    You must have inadvertently transported yourself to a different city. What you describe cannot possibly have taken place in New York City.

  • Andrew

    While attempting to cross the street at a stop sign this afternoon, I was cut off by a truck. Yet I didn’t attempt to murder the the truck driver in response, nor did I inadvertently cut off a bystander’s leg. And if I had, I would have rightly landed in jail.

  • Anonymous

    Equip the “Taxi of Tomorrow” with speed and acceleration governors. It’s a start.

  • Anonymous

    Well then, us cyclists should just run all the newspaper delivery trucks off the road.

    You know – because we can.

  • Anonymous

    Need to keep beating the drum that more New Yorkers are killed by cars than by guns and knives.

  • Guest

    I don’t know what actually happened here, but (sarcasm) In “motorist-speak”, a cyclist or ped who doesn’t “roll over” when a motorist wants the lane can be interpreted as “cutting off”. Emma Blumstein (killed in 2012 by a truck making a fast left) can be accused of “cutting off” the driver who killed her. Mathieu Lefevre can be accused of “cutting off” the truck that ran him down. Remember, boys and girls, only motorists have rights. Everyone else uses the road at the motorist’s indulgence. (/sarcasm) I recall a public service ad from the AAA in the ’80s that was pretty explicit that cyclists should slow down when motorists cut across their path. Ironically, it seems that it takes the suspicion that a cyclist caused a serious crash to get law enforcement to investigate.

  • Keegan Stephan

    Great that the DA will investigate, now we must be critical of how the DA will investigate. Will he seize the black box? Will he seize all security cameras before they record over the footage of the crash? Will he seek out all witnesses, or simply talk to the driver and take his word for it? Will he release this information to the public?

  • MarkB

    Better start would be the introduction of the “Johnny Cab”. But then, all the former Indian and Pakistani doctors would be out of work. (Hey, going on what I was told about NYC cabbies….)

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