Parents of Allie Liao: ‘We Challenge Drivers to Pause and Ask – Is It Worth It?’


Last month, three year-old Allison Liao was crossing Main Street in Flushing with her grandmother when an SUV driver turned left, hitting and killing the toddler while she had the walk signal in the crosswalk. Yesterday in Jackson Heights, Liao’s parents marched with the families and friends of other traffic violence victims, and made this powerful plea for a safer driving culture.

“The police know the driver was in the wrong,” Amy Tam, Liao’s mother, told the crowd as she wiped away tears. “They issued him two traffic tickets: Failure to yield and failure to use due care. Allie paid the death penalty for crossing the street.”

The family has been in touch with the office of Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, which is reviewing the case but has not told the family how long that process will take. During that period, the family does not have access to evidence collected by the police, including video of the crash. “I’m not sure my wife would want to see, but I want to make sure the police are making the right decision,”  Hsi-Pei Liao told Streetsblog. “From what we keep hearing, they’re saying it’s an accident. I want to see for myself, does it really look like an accident?”

Also marching last night were other Queens parents whose children had been killed by drivers. Prior to the march, the only other parents of traffic violence victims that Tam and Liao had met were Amy Cohen and Gary Eckstein, whose 12 year-old son Sammy was killed on Prospect Park West. “Our kids were killed two days apart, so we connected on a level that’s very hard to understand,” Tam said. “You know, only parents who have lost their child would understand. I don’t know the words.”

We’ll have a full report on yesterday’s demonstration later today.

  • JK

    These parents are heroes. They’ve taken their incomprehensible loss and are using it in a pragmatic and calm way to try and bring some good to the world. They are incredibly inspiring. God bless them, I hope this work they are doing for all of us helps ease their sorrow.

  • guest

    That made me cry… As a pedestrian, I’m so grateful to these wonderful parents for speaking out and helping to push for change. I strongly feel that the culture of driver impunity won’t change in NYC until we, the people, take to the streets. Most of our politicians and cops are drivers themselves and seem satisfied with the status quo. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for marches and protests, and will make sure to join.

    Sincere condolences to Allie’s family, and the families of all other NYers killed and hurt by careless drivers, who almost never see justice. Let’s speak of this carnage to our families and friends, and mobilize to demand change from our elected representatives and NYPD. This must start with enforcing existing traffic laws and not settling for a summons when negligence was found.

  • Judie

    It was no accident he killed her with his car plain and simple. I send my condolences to the family.

  • Chris

    The video shows plain and simple that the driver didn’t even look AND that Liao did not run off. The DA needs to crack down or people will not pay due attention.

  • Shawn R

    I was on my way to work, In Buffalo NY 2009 when I was hit head on by a Flex Bus in a crosswalk zone headed for college campus who was driving unusually fast. I was saved by my Helmet and back pack.. dragged some 80 feet. I was not granted usual interjection deposition of my statement and blamed for running the light. New York State needs laws to protect pedestrians and commuters in crosswalk.

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