Will Cy Vance Fail to Prosecute Another Serious Midtown Curb-Jump Crash?

New Yorkers have seen this before.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance sees no evidence of recklessness here. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/FDNY/status/496750617613066240##@FDNY##
No evidence of recklessness here, says Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/FDNY/status/496750617613066240##@FDNY##

On a beautiful summer day, a professional driver with a history of recklessness behind the wheel drives onto a crowded Midtown sidewalk, striking multiple people and causing serious injuries. The driver lays blame elsewhere, on factors he claims were beyond his control. Meanwhile, staff from Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office, who don’t normally discuss vehicular crimes with reporters, issue statements assuring the public that prosecutors are on the case.

It was one year ago this month that yellow cab driver Mohammad Faysal Himon severed the leg of tourist Sian Green. In November, Vance’s office announced that no charges would be filed.

On Tuesday afternoon, William Dalambert crashed a Gray Line double-decker bus into an SUV and another sightseeing bus at 47th Street and Seventh Avenue, then jumped the curb and knocked over a light pole, injuring 18 people. Dalambert has anywhere from 11 to 20 license suspensions on his record, according to reports. He has been cited for speeding, using a cell phone while driving, and driving without a license. Video reportedly shows him accelerating before Tuesday’s crash, as the light in front of the bus turned red. Dalambert claimed the brakes on the bus failed, but investigators found no evidence of a mechanical problem.

Dalambert was arrested for driving while ability impaired, but further tests indicated no intoxication, and to this point Vance has filed no charges.

“[A]t this present stage of the investigation, there is not sufficient basis to conclude that the defendant was operating the tour bus in a reckless manner,” read a court notice filed by Vance’s office. Vance spokesperson Joan Vollero said the office is still investigating: “We are awaiting results of the full toxicology report. We are taking this matter seriously.”

Whether or not Dalambert was under the influence, that he drove into two vehicles, mounted the curb and injured multiple bystanders is not in dispute. Only through sheer luck did the people in his path escape death, and the severity of the victims’ injuries is not publicly known.

There is video of this crash, and, as with the Sian Green case, no shortage of witnesses. And yet — as with the Sian Green case — Vance has issued no charges for recklessness or criminal negligence.

Time will tell if DA Vance steps up in this instance to protect New Yorkers from dangerous drivers, or if the outcome of this serious crash will be déjà vu all over again.

  • nycbikecommuter

    11 to 20 license suspensions??? And he was still driving??? Professionally??? There is something so wrong with this picture.

  • Andres Dee

    There must have been a bicycler in this picture somewhere…or a pededestrian with earphones, or something.(/sarcasm) Seriously, a certain number of suspensions (say 3 within a 3 month period) should lead to revocation. Operating a motor vehicle without license should be a felony with consequences to employer and punitive damages.

  • NYer

    Cy Vance could care less. End of story.

  • Maggie

    I’m not a lawyer. I presume these are two different court systems? But WSJ’s New York page has a pretty amazing juxtaposition of headlines:

    Sudden Acceleration Before Bus Collision in Times Square

    and

    Counterfeit Fine Wine Dealer Sentenced to 10 Years

  • Ken

    The DA’s office would have nothing to do with a bunch if tickets – those are handled by an administrative court. As for this case, you self-declared experts on vehicular “crime” don’t seem to know the first thing about the actual law. Criminial liability doesn’t arise in every crash, or everytime a curb is jumped. If a driver intentionally drives on a sidewalk, then that is different. But, if this guy was trying to beat a light and accidentally drove onto the curb, the law doesn’t support the proposition that his act was intentional, nor does it support criminal negligence or recklessness. Automobiles are dangerous and nobody disputes that fact, but accidents do happen. Finally, if you want the law to change, get off this blog and go vote for some assemblyman and state senators who will change bad precedent set by the court of appeals.

  • Ken

    Also, why is the blog post author angry at anyone other than the tour bus company?!? Is Bill Bratton supposed to personally approve every application for every cab driver or bus driver in the whole city?

  • Brad Aaron

    I personally know nothing about New York State vehicular law that I haven’t learned in years of reporting on it, but …

    In 2009 Vance ran on a platform of bringing cases and challenging precedent. He pledged specifically to challenge the “rule of two,” and stated that one traffic violation should be enough to sustain a charge of criminal negligence. He also said he would work aggressively to get Albany to amend weak state laws, and work with NYPD to keep low-level traffic offenders from escalating. Yet his Albany campaign has not materialized, and crashes like this one, and others resulting in death, continue without as much as a ticket — let alone, say, a misdemeanor reckless driving charge.

    And while prosecutors in Nassau County, for instance, are taking cases before the Court of Appeals, win or lose, Vance now says the VTL is just too complicated for him to deal with.

    Of course I read all that on a blog, so take it at face value.

  • Brad Aaron

    Give me a break.

  • The answer of most politicians to this fiasco is a rather predictable “more rules and regulations.” Ydanis Rodriguez proposes that NY require that tour bus drivers have no more than 3 moving violations in 10 years. That sounds nice, but what if next time it’s a delivery truck driver? Or a jitney driver?

    In my view there is a very simple solution to this. Enough with all the hyper-specialized fixes looking to prevent exactly the kind of crash that just occurred! The companies running these tour buses are private companies. Every time a private commercial vehicle slams into pedestrian space causing injury or death, bam, big fine to the owner of the vehicle (maybe $100,000-$250,000). That would give bus companies, jitney companies, taxi companies, delivery truck companies, UPS, FedEx, and the whole grand lot of commercial vehicle operators on NYC streets a big incentive to look more closely into the driving histories of their “professional” drivers.

  • Joe R.

    Trying to beat a light=intentionally speeding. That’s hardly accidental in my book. Vehicles just don’t jump the curb, or cause other vehicles to jump the curb, if they’re going the legal 30 mph speed or less. The only true accident is one which involves mechanical failure. On today’s vehicles, that’s relatively rare.

  • ELS

    “…crashed a Gray Line double-decker bus into an SUV and another sightseeing bus at 47th Street and Seventh Avenue, then jumped the curb and knocked over a light pole, injuring 18 people.”

    “‘…there is not sufficient basis to conclude that the defendant was operating the tour bus in a reckless manner,’ read a court notice filed by Vance’s office.”

    Well, I suppose it wasn’t actually airborne.

  • Nathanael

    It’s time to replace Cy Vance.

    Really, Vance belongs behind bars for corruption in public office, but it’s hard to do that. Pernicious doctrines invented by the courts have made it practically impossible to win a case against a DA for criminal activity, but Vance actually ought to be charged as a co-conspirator in all of these cases.

    In the meantime, Manhattan DA is still an elected post, I believe. Cy Vance needs to have a brutal campaign against him which will bleed his pockets dry and leave him unwilling to even run again.

    TV ads should outright blame him for these crashes and the deaths invoived. Vance has arrogated the power to declare murder-by-car legal, and he is guilty in every one of these deaths. And that’s what should be on TV: Cy Vance, who thinks murder is legal.

  • Nathanael

    Could we have a blog entry on the Nassau County prosecutors and what they’ve been doing? It would be a pleasant relief to hear about some good news and some attempts to enforce the law.

  • Sanfordia113

    The evidence of his recklessness is so transparently self-evident that any 3-year old can see it. This DA needs to go back to kindergarten to learn basic common sense. Vote him out of office, people!

  • Sanfordia113

    $100,000 should be the fine for a commercial diver crossing into a pedestrian space resulting in zero human collisions. If there is a collision resulting in injury or death, the result should be a 10-year suspension and $500,000-$1 million fine.

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