9-Year-Old Boy, Mother, and Senior Killed in Weekend of Motorist Violence

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.

Cooper Stock. Photo via DNAinfo
Cooper Stock. Photo via DNAinfo

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.

From DNAinfo:

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.

Nydja Herring. Photo via Daily News
Nydja Herring. Photo via Daily News

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.

  • Parent

    Look at this disturbing pattern. Cooper Stock was killed more or less within sight of his family’s apartment. Shear was killed not far from where he lives. Nydja Herring was killed “just yards away from their Bronx apartment,” according to 1010 WINS. Lucian Merryweather was killed down the street from his apartment. Sammy Cohen Eckstein was killed across the street from his family’s home. Countless kids have been killed on their way to school.

    Mayor de Blasio, it’s up to you to fix this. This is the sad and inevitable result of high traffic speeds in places where people live, which in NYC means almost anywhere but a separated highway. You can start by instituting a 20 mph speed limit in New York right now. If Albany objects or sues, let ’em. Then you can keep going by telling community board leaders that enough is enough. No more squabbles over one or two parking spaces or increased travel times of a few seconds. And you can stand up to the TLC and take the side of kids, not medallion owners.

    This is on you, Bill.

  • Mark Walker

    I love my neighborhood. Its streets terrify me.

  • SteveVaccaro

    There will be a vigil-like gathering of parents and residents concerned by this latest incident of traffic violence this Wednesday, at 6:30 p.m., at the corner of West End Avenue and 97th Street.

  • JoshNY

    Man, Vision Zero is off to a heck of a start, eh?

  • UWSrez

    ”As of now, there are no disciplinary actions available to the TLC,” said Allan Fromberg, spokesperson for the Taxi and Limousine Commission. ”We’re awaiting the outcome of the NYPD investigation to make a determination of what options are available.”

    How is this even possible, there is no disciplinary option for a cabbie after he kills a child? Seriously: how? And de Blasio’s silence on these deaths is horrifying. I’m asking myself: if the violent deaths of a child, a senior, and a mother are not enough, how many deaths of innocent, beloved New Yorkers in any weekend would it take for the mayor to speak up?

  • red_greenlight1

    Meet the new traffic safety plan almost completely indistinguishable from the old one.

  • red_greenlight1

    These are all very good questions. Sadly I think the answer for the later one is fast approaching “nothing.” He’s had numerous chances to but eating a slice of pizza with a fork and a knife seems to be more important to him

  • red_greenlight1

    Well at least Komlani was ticketed for something. That’s more than what happens to 98% of drivers involved in serious or fatal collisions.

  • NYFM

    Seriously. You are correct. Blame Bloomberg. Kelly, and Sadik-Kahn for not enforcing the speed limit!

  • red_greenlight1

    Which also makes it Bills fault as well. I have yet to see an uptick in speed enforcement.

  • Ped

    This is horrible. At this rate, I think the zero will be added onto the existing numbers as in 10x.

  • StepUpAndSaySomething

    I would give DeBlasio a break in making a real change since broken systems like the NYPD are stubborn to anything new, especially things that make them do more work. But I give him no excuse for his total silence in this issue, one which he talked about to get our support during the campaign. It would cost him nothing to speak to the press or have a representative go out to the vigil to at least express sympathy to those lost before he could get his cards in order. I am hoping he is just struggling to get his house in order, and not that he is a sellout to the 1%, those who think of pedestrians as speed bumps.

  • red_greenlight1

    I’d argue that his silence and token lip service speak volumes about how committed he is to actually fixing it. I’d give him a break but he hitched his wagon to making the streets safer so he actually needs to do that.

  • HamTech87

    It is not like De Blasio wasn’t there too as Public Advocate. He just chose to not make it an issue.

  • klfnd

    Time also for automated enforcement and greater police enforcement of speeding and failure to yield violations. 18 families lost their children last year, many children lost a parent or grandparents, all because someone was in a hurry or not paying attention.

  • StepUpAndSaySomething

    I very much agree, his silence is absurd. I hope that he still creates change, but you may be very right.

  • Bornraisednyc

    In many cities there is a dedicated light specifically for cars turning, either right or left. Turning cars do not have the option of turning when the dedicated light is red. There are a few intersections with these dedicated “right of way” lights: one is opposite the Metropolitan Museum. There is another one at either 72 nd or 79th and Third Avenue.
    Of course, getting pedestrians to comply is not easy. That is no excuse for any driver because the rule has always been: pedestrians have the absolute right of way….even if a pedestrian is crossing against the light.
    It is impossibe for the driver to not have seen the boy with his full-sized adult father! Many cabs simply careen around corners and assume he pedestrians will yield and jump out of the way this behavior should be up the with DUI consequences.

  • Komlani needs to be banned for life from driving ANYTHING, taxi or private car. He has demonstrated himself to be an absolutely horrible driver, and is a clear and imminent danger to all New Yorkers so long as he remains out there.

  • greggzuk

    Murder

  • Andrew

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Cy Vance: $580 Fine for Driver Who Killed 9-Year-Old Cooper Stock

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In separate stories published yesterday, family members of Marilyn Dershowitz and Cooper Stock, both lost to traffic violence, criticized Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance for his reluctance to file serious charges against motorists who kill people. Vance declined to apply criminal charges against Koffi Komlani, the cab driver who struck 9-year-old Cooper and his father as the two walked hand […]