Unlicensed Driver Who Critically Injured Senior Faces 30 Days and $500 Fine

The driver of this van barely slowed down as he turned into an occupied crosswalk, striking a senior. Image via Daily News. Video after the jump.
The driver of this van barely slowed down as he turned into an occupied crosswalk, striking a senior. He was charged with driving without a license. Image via Daily News. Video after the jump.

Maude Savage did everything right. She used the crosswalk. She looked both ways before entering the street. She waited for the pedestrian signal. Then she was hit by an allegedly unlicensed motorist in a commercial van who drove into her while making a left turn at a high rate of speed.

The crash happened at around 12:25 p.m. Monday at Sutter and Euclid Avenues in Brooklyn, according to reports. Savage, 72, suffered head injuries and was taken to Brookdale Hospital, where she was in critical but stable condition.

From the Post:

“She was bleeding from her head,” said Bruny Perez, a cashier at Mike’s Grocery Corp., where the woman had just shopped.

“She comes in the store every day,” said Perez.

He added, “She had the right of way. The DirecTV truck was speeding down Euclid — I don’t know how he didn’t see her.”

Perez said he didn’t know the woman’s name, but he described her as “a very active lady” who also has an elderly sister and a son.

Court records indicate that driver Robert Brown was charged with third degree aggravated unlicensed operation, a misdemeanor that stipulates that he drove without a license when he knew or should have known he didn’t have one. He was also ticketed for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

A charge of third degree unlicensed operation is sometimes levied against unlicensed drivers whose recklessness causes the death of a pedestrian. In those cases, the going penalty for killing someone while driving illegally is a $500 fine.

Video of this crash, embedded below the jump, shows that the driver never really slows down while making a 90 degree turn into an occupied crosswalk. In a Street Justice column from last March, attorney Steve Vaccaro wrote that in order to charge a motorist with criminal negligence, it must be proven “that a defendant’s failure to perceive a risk constituted a ‘gross deviation’ from what a reasonable person would have perceived.” That the behavior in this case apparently does not meet that standard is another sign that, when it comes to penalizing drivers who injure and kill, New York’s criminal justice system is not working.

Yet if you read the comments on the Daily News story, several readers believe that because a DirecTV logo was painted on the van, Savage is in for a big payday. A couple of people seem to think the driver will get his just deserts. If Savage survives this crash, however, it’s doubtful she would have standing to sue DirecTV in civil court, since many if not most who install the company’s satellite dishes are independent contractors. In a statement cited by the Post, DirecTV said the driver of the van who hit Savage is not a DirecTV employee.

As for Brown, for a top charge of third degree unlicensed operation, the most severe penalty prescribed by law is a $500 fine and 30 days in jail. Had Brown not been accused of driving without a license, it’s all but certain he would have faced no penalty whatsoever, like the thousands of drivers involved in similar crashes in New York City every year.

  • Mark Walker

    I hope he gets the 30 days (though it’s too lenient). How can an unlicensed driver commit bodily harm and NOT go to jail?

  • KillMoto

    Looks to me like a premeditated act. You can see the van stopped behind a car at the light for several seconds at the beginning of the video. Plenty of time for him to plan his attack. The light changes, and the driver has to not only accelerate hard, but also cut the corner quite harshly to hit the victim.

  • Keith Williams

    I’d love to see Ken Thompson bring criminal negligence charges against this man on his first day in office.

  • Andrew

    Far too lenient. I’d say that 30 days plus a $500 fine might be an appropriate penalty for merely threatening to injure or kill a pedestrian or cyclist with a motor vehicle in order to “convince” the pedestrian to “voluntarily” give up her legal right of way. Actually following through on the act is far more severe.

    (Is there a standard penalty for threatening to injure or kill someone with a gun in order to “convince” her to “voluntarily” give up her money?)

  • Guest

    It is an unbelievable disgrace the NYPD didn’t hit serious charges.

    Let the DA drop something he doesn’t feel will stick. At least put some real into these perps. But all these entitled officials with the placards don’t care if the plebes get mowed down.

    They must believe that if we’re willing to walk in such dangerous places we’re subhuman degenerates with no regard for our own lives, and deserve what we get.

  • Rabi Abonour

    This is so depressing. There is clear video evidence that this driver was behaving recklessly to the point of criminal negligence, but he only was charged with failure to yield. Unbelievable.

  • Guest

    If that’s not criminal negligence, then nothing is!

  • John Abides

    It doesn’t excuse the driver in the least, but the video shows a harsh sunlight to shadow transition so it’s possible he simply didn’t see her. Especially if he had a dirty window and the crosswalk was in the shade. Not seeing is not a viable excuse (unless you’re in a car!) so I still think he should be punished pretty hard.

    Anecdotal, but I see those technician vans driving like maniacs all the time. Their livelihood depends on getting to the next job as quickly as possible, but they need to take it easy.

    If you can’t even trust crosswalks, what’s the point? Jaywalking and keeping your eyes open is better than this.

  • Jocelyn

    Maude Savage is loved by many. She really enjoyed her retirement. Robert Brown has taken all of that away. I hope he will be punished to the fullest extent of the law. I know it is wrong to hate but that is how I feel. My friend Maude funeral was today and I am heartbroken and still in disbelief.

  • Horrified

    NY Penal Code Article 125.25 Murder in the Second Degree:

    A person is guilty of murder in the second degree when:
    Under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life,
    he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to
    another person, and thereby causes the death of another person

    New Yorkers — pedestrians and cyclists and parents of kids who walk or bike to school, you need to pressure the DA to start charging these cases appropriately. Defendants can always try to plead down — but if the DA never charges high, the offenses will always be seen as “so what” by drivers who have no standard of care attached to their behavior.

  • Stacey Hanson

    I KNOW MOMMA MADE FOR YEARS I WAS HER DAUGHTER IN LAW I WAS ENGAGED TO HER OLDEST SON ROBBIE Back In The 1980’s. I Hurt so much now cause he tried to get in contact with me and couldn’t. I just found out and my heart is in pain. I love you Momma Maude S.I.P. You may be gone from this world but never from our Hearts.

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