Three pedestrians were fatally struck by motorists over the weekend, bringing to seven the number of people killed while walking in New York City in the first two weeks of 2014.
Twenty pedestrians were killed by city motorists in January 2013, according to NYPD data, and 12 pedestrians and one cyclist died in January 2012.
Nine-year-old Cooper Stock was in a crosswalk with his father at West End Avenue and 97th Street at around 9 p.m. Friday when both were hit by cab driver Koffi Komlani, according to reports. A motorist in a car behind Komlani spoke with the Daily News:
“He had to be distracted because there’s no way he could not see them, if I did,” [Ramon] Gonzalez, 46, said of the 53-year-old cabbie.
“The father grabbed his son. They were both on the hood of the car for a second. The father fell off the passenger side. The son went underneath the driver’s-side tire, first the front one, then the rear.”
Komlani, of West Harriman, didn’t brake until after he’d run over the boy with both wheels, according to Gonzalez, the assistant director of an educational nonprofit who lives in Chelsea.
Richard Stock suffered a leg injury. Cooper died at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital.
Cooper Stock was at least the twelfth child age 14 and under killed by a New York City motorist in the last 12 months, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. Year after year, traffic crashes remain the leading cause of injury-related death for children in NYC.
The family released a statement about Cooper late Saturday, saying he loved the Yankees, rock and roll, and the Knicks. “Cooper was the life of the party even when there wasn’t a party,” the statement said. “He was light, he was reflective, he was beauty in motion, he was charismatic. He has been described as an old soul, and wise beyond his years.”
Komlani was ticketed for failure to yield on Friday. “As of now, there are no disciplinary actions available to the TLC,” said Allan Fromberg, spokesperson for the Taxi and Limousine Commission, in an email. “We’re awaiting the outcome of the NYPD investigation to make a determination of what options are available.”
Approximately 45 minutes before the Stocks were struck, 73-year-old Alexander Shear was hit by a tour bus driver at Broadway and 96th Street. From the Daily News:
The Shafer Tour bus was motoring past Broadway at about 8:15 p.m. when it struck the unidentified man, officials said.
The driver apparently never saw him and kept going, pulling the helpless senior under the bus.
Stunned witnesses raced over and flagged down the driver, who ultimately stopped near Amsterdam Ave.
“As soon as I heard that noise, I knew that somebody was underneath the bus,” witness Coral Martin, 23, told the News. “We started running after the bus driver. “I was crying and screaming.”
“I didn’t know. I didn’t see him!” the panic-stricken bus driver told detectives, according to Martin.
In New York City, “I didn’t see him” is not an admission of negligence, but rather a virtually ironclad defense for motorists who injure and kill. NYPD did not charge or summons the bus driver who hit Shear, reports said.
Shear was a noted collector of pop culture artifacts who also developed products for J.C. Penney. “He had a lot of energy for life,” his friend Stephanie Easton told the Daily News. “I can’t believe he’s gone.”
The crashes that killed Cooper Stock and Alexander Shear occurred within one block of each other in the City Council district represented by newly-elected Helen Rosenthal, and in the 24th Precinct, where as of November local officers had issued 57 speeding tickets in 2013, and 245 summonses for failure to yield to a pedestrian. Both crashes are being investigated by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office, a source told Streetsblog.
On Saturday at around 5:30 p.m., Nydja Herring was hit by the driver of a Volkswagen sedan on East Tremont Avenue at Van Nest Avenue, in Parkchester, according to reports.
Family members said Herring had been at a party when she stepped out to buy something for her twin boys, who are 2 years old. From WCBS:
Police said Herring was crossing from the north side of the street to the south side when Jenkins hit her. The dented hood and shattered windshield showed the powerful force of the impact.
“I basically saw the accident happen, but didn’t even know that that was my sister in law until a little after the fact,” Kareem Mitchell said.
Herring was unconscious and died by the time she was rushed to a hospital.
Driver Augustus Jenkins, 28, reportedly had an adult passenger and two children in the car. He was charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated, reports said, and unlicensed driving. WCBS reported that Jenkins may be charged under Leandra’s Law, which makes it a felony to drive drunk with children in a vehicle. As of this afternoon Jenkins’s name did not appear on an online database of court records, and it is unknown if he will be charged with homicide.
A charge of aggravated DWI is issued when a driver is found to have a blood alcohol content of .18 or higher, or when a child is in the driver’s vehicle, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. The maximum penalty in the former scenario is a $2,500 fine and a year in jail, along with a license revocation of at least one year. A violation of Leandra’s Law is a class E felony, the least severe felony category. Class E felonies carry a penalty of up to four years in jail, and can also result in no jail time or probation.
The crash that killed Nydja Herring occurred in the City Council district represented by newcomer Ritchie Torres, and in the 49th Precinct, where as of November local officers had issued 161 speeding tickets in 2013, and 12 summonses for failure to yield to a pedestrian.