In Memoriam

Left to right: District attorneys Richard Brown, Dan Donovan, and Robert Johnson are up for re-election in 2015. New York City DAs are a major obstacle to Mayor de Blasio's Vision Zero program.
Left to right: District attorneys Richard Brown, Dan Donovan, and Robert Johnson are up for re-election in 2015. New York City DAs are a major obstacle to Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero program.

For as long as anyone can remember, New York City has treated most drivers who kill other people as unwitting players in someone else’s tragedy. With a new mayoral administration and the advent of Vision Zero, 2014 was to be the year the city began in earnest to hold reckless motorists, including those whose negligence would ordinarily be considered as ineluctable as weather, accountable for causing injury and death.

And there were major victories, thanks to Families for Safe Streets, Transportation Alternatives, Right of Way, and electeds who understood that traffic violence, like other types of crime, is both devastating and preventable. The City Council and Mayor de Blasio enacted a legislative package prescribed by the Vision Zero Action Plan; Albany lawmakers authorized a lower city speed limit and an expanded speed camera program. Meanwhile, some members of the New York City press corps, which traditionally failed to discern commonalities among crashes, acknowledged traffic violence as an epidemic. It’s conceivable that the first six months of 2014 saw more progress in the struggle for safer streets than any other time since the city began ceding the public realm to motordom.

But after an auspicious start, the weak links in New York’s version of Vision Zero became apparent. While enforcement against dangerous driving infractions improved slightly, throughout the year NYPD marshaled a crackdown on pedestrians and cyclists, squandering resources the department could have used to prevent the motorist recklessness that causes most traffic crashes. Despite reforms purportedly instituted by former commissioner Ray Kelly, and new leadership at key positions, NYPD still doesn’t investigate the vast majority of serious crashes, and even refuses to collect witness testimony. NYPD failed to meaningfully enforce a new law that makes it a crime to harm pedestrians and cyclists who have the right of way, and police continued to publicly blame crash victims for their own deaths.

Though his role is vital to the program’s success, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton stopped attending Vision Zero-related events in its first year. For that matter, Mayor de Blasio had nothing to say about traffic violence in the last half of 2014, even as motorists killed several children.

Of New York City’s five district attorneys, none took up the Vision Zero mantle. Rather than work toward reform, prosecutors hid behind state statutes and legal precedents that favor drivers who injure and kill. City DAs remained silent when the state’s highest court again displayed depraved indifference to victims’ lives, as prosecutors who take traffic violence seriously voiced their disapproval. Grieving parents were turned away by those they believed were elected to protect them. To a man, in 2014 each New York City district attorney declined to prosecute a reckless driver for killing a child.

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles emerged as a serious contender among governmental bodies derelict in their duty to keep dangerous drivers on the road. Due in large part to the efforts of attorney Steve Vaccaro, New Yorkers learned that the DMV license adjudication process works to the benefit of law-breaking motorists, not their victims.

Official data won’t be available until sometime next year, but it looks like the number of pedestrian and cyclist injuries and fatalities in 2014 will be on par with previous years. With new tools at the ready, law enforcement’s approach to crashes was essentially unchanged. Not once that we know of was a sober driver charged with homicide in 2014 for killing a pedestrian or cyclist, excepting cases where the driver fled the scene or was accused of striking a victim intentionally. There was one such prosecution in 2013.

So in 2015 the work to make city streets safer begins anew. Families of crash victims have called for the DMV to reform its protocols, and the agency will get a healthy dose of sunshine next year, beginning in early January. Three district attorneys are up for re-election in 2015. Advocates will keep the pressure on Mayor de Blasio and his NYPD and DOT to follow the Vision Zero blueprint. With city motorists continuing to inflict harm every few minutes, there is no time to waste.

Here is our accounting of New York City pedestrians and cyclists known to have lost their lives to motorists in 2014. In the comments, please share remembrances of those named here, and the names and stories of victims we missed.

Christal Aliotta, Rosa Anidjar, Matthew Brenner, Jean Chambers
Christal Aliotta, Rosa Anidjar, Matthew Brenner, Jean Chambers
  • Jason Aitcheson, 27, Killed Walking in the Bronx; Hit-and-Run (Streetsblog)
  • Christal Aliotta, 31, Killed Walking on Staten Island Sidewalk; Driver Charged With Unlicensed Driving (Streetsblog)
  • Cristina Alonso, 38, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; No Known Charges (Streetsblog)
  • Ignascio Andal, 84, Killed Walking in Queens; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Rosa Anidjar, 60, Killed Walking in Queens; Driver Not Charged (Times Ledger)
  • Cydney Arther, 73, Killed Walking in Manhattan; Driver Not Charged (DNA)
  • Marlene Baharlias, 77, Killed Walking on Brooklyn Sidewalk; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Florence Bello, 63, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; No Known Charges (Streetsblog)
  • James Benedict, 67, Killed Walking in Staten Island; Driver Charged With Manslaughter, DWI (Advance)
  • Jean Bonne-Année, 78, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; Driver [MTA Bus] Charged Under Right of Way Law (WNYC)
  • Matthew Brenner, 29, Killed Cycling in Brooklyn; No Known Charges (Streetsblog)
  • Jean Chambers, 61, Killed Walking in Manhattan; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Roshard Charles, 5, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; Driver Charged With Leaving Scene, Reckless Endangerment (Streetsblog)
Roshard Charles, Dohee Cho, Jenna Daniels
Roshard Charles, Dohee Cho, Jenna Daniels
  • Dohee Cho, 33, Killed Walking in Manhattan; Driver Charged With Leaving Scene (News)
  • Edmund Chou, 79, Killed Walking in Queens; Driver Not Charged (Post)
  • Jenna Daniels, 15, Killed Walking in Staten Island; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Alex Davis, 59, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; Hit-and-Run (Streetsblog)
  • Valding Duran, 13, Killed Cycling in Manhattan; Driver [Boro Cab] Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Dwayne Dwyer, 30, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • William Faison, 53, Killed Cycling in Queens; Driver Charged With Unlicensed Driving (Streetsblog)
  • Avrohom Feldmaus, 89, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; Driver Charged With DWI (JP Updates)
  • Xochil Zack Fortune, 27, Killed Cycling in Brooklyn; Doored, Hit-and-Run, No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Blima Friedman, 10, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; Driver Charged With Unauthorized Use of Vehicle (Streetsblog)
  • Menachem Galapo, 62, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; No Known Charges (DNA)
  • Silvia Gallo, 58, Killed Walking in Manhattan; Driver [Yellow Cab] Charged Under Right of Way Law (Streetsblog)
  • Jerrison Garcia, 25, Killed Cycling in Manhattan; Driver [Livery Cab] Charged With Unlicensed Driving, Careless Driving (Streetsblog)
William Faison, Xochil Zack Fortune, Jerrison Garcia
William Faison, Xochil Zack Fortune, Jerrison Garcia
  • Anthony Githere, 64, Killed Walking in Manhattan; Driver Not Charged (NBC)
  • Kelly Gordon, 22, Killed Walking in Manhattan; Drivers [Yellow Cab] Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Gedalia Gruntzweig, 25, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; Driver [DSNY] Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Karol Grzegorczyk, 32, Killed Walking in Queens; Hit-and-Run (DNA)
  • William Guevara-Delgado, 26, Killed Walking in Queens; No Known Charges (Streetsblog)
  • Jackie Haeflinger, 58, Killed Walking in Manhattan; Driver [DSNY] Not Charged (NYT)
  • Joan Hale, 71, Killed Walking in Brooklyn by Unlicensed Driver; No Known Charges (NY1)
  • Nydja Herring, 32, Killed Walking in the Bronx; Driver Charged With DWI, Unlicensed Driving (Streetsblog)
  • Melvina Hibbert, 76, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; Driver Not Charged (Post)
  • Charity Hicks, Killed Standing on Manhattan Sidewalk; Hit-and-Run Driver Charged With Manslaughter (Streetsblog)
  • Xiaoci Hu, 75, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; No Known Charges (Streetsblog)
  • Shu Fan Huang, 82, Killed Walking in Manhattan; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Angela Hurtado, 68, Killed Walking in Queens; Driver Pled Guilty to Unlicensed Driving, Fined $500 (Streetsblog)
Kelly Gordon, Gedalia Gruntzweig, Jackie Haeflinger
Kelly Gordon, Gedalia Gruntzweig, Jackie Haeflinger
  • Kaneez Hussein, 73, Killed Walking in Queens; Driver Charged With Leaving Scene, Unlicensed Driving (Post)
  • Jelani Irving, 22, Killed Cycling in Brooklyn; Driver Summonsed for Bald Tires (Streetsblog)
  • Lisa Julian, 47, Killed Walking in Manhattan; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Mosa Khatun, 38, Killed Walking in Queens; Hit-and-Run Driver Summonsed for Careless Driving, Failure to Yield (Streetsblog)
  • Samantha Lee, 26, Killed Walking in Manhattan; Driver [FDNY] Not Charged (Post)
  • Sau Ying Lee, 90, Killed Walking in Manhattan; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Sui Leung, 82, Killed Walking in Manhattan; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Bonnie Lewin, 65, Killed Walking in Manhattan; No Known Charges (Bethesda Magazine)
  • Denise Lippin, 56, Killed Walking in the Bronx; Driver Not Charged (News)
  • Bryan Loughran, 32, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; Driver Charged With Leaving Scene, Unlicensed Driving (News)
  • Marisol Martinez, 21, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; Driver [MTA Bus] Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Douglas Matrullo, 67, Killed Walking in Manhattan; Hit-and-Run (WNYC)
  • Winnifred Matthias, 77, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; No Known Charges (Streetsblog)
Nydja Herring, Charity Hicks, Angela Hurtado
Nydja Herring, Charity Hicks, Angela Hurtado
  • Rony Mejia, 26, Killed Walking in the Bronx; One Driver Fled Scene, One Driver [Livery Cab] Not Charged (DNA)
  • Elliot Mintzer, 67, Killed Walking in Queens; No Known Charges [Semi Truck] (DNA)
  • Robert Moczo, 58, Killed Walking in Queens; No Known Charges (Times Ledger)
  • Anna Maria Moström, 29, Killed Cycling in Roosevelt Island; Driver [RIOC Bus] Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Margherita Nanfro, 80, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Sokhna Niang, 49, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; Driver Not Charged (News 12)
  • Keiko Ohnishi, 66, Killed Walking in Manhattan; Driver Pled Guilty to Unlicensed Driving, Fined $400 (Streetsblog)
  • Felipe Palacios, 27, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; Hit-and-Run (Streetsblog)
  • Manuel Pani, 56, Killed Walking in the Bronx; NYPD: “Driver Claimed the Light Was Green”; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Oscar Pauzhi, 54, Killed Walking in Queens; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Robert Perry, 57, Killed Walking in Manhattan; Driver Charged With Homicide (Streetsblog)
  • Julian Mendez Porres, 88, Killed Walking in the Bronx; No Known Charges [MTA Bus] (NY1)
  • Kumar Ragunath, 64, Killed Walking in Queens; Hit-and-Run (Streetsblog)
Jelani Irving, Bonnie Lewin, Bryan Loughran
Jelani Irving, Bonnie Lewin, Bryan Loughran
  • Gloria Ramiro, 64, Killed Walking in Manhattan; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Rylee Ramos, 8, Killed on Bronx Sidewalk; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Ruben Rivera, 81, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; Hit-and-Run (Streetsblog)
  • Ida Rosenblatt, 87, Killed Walking in the Bronx; No Known Charges (Riverdale Press)
  • Pedro Santiago, 45, Killed Cycling in Manhattan; Driver [MTA Bus] Not Charged (Post)
  • Margarita Seda, 80, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; Driver Summonsed for Careless Driving, Failure to Yield (Streetsblog)
  • Joie Sellers, 12, Killed on Brooklyn Sidewalk; Driver Charged With Homicide (Post)
  • Alexander Shear, 73, Killed Walking in Manhattan; No Known Charges [Tour Bus] (Streetsblog)
  • Latchman Singh, 34, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; Hit-and-Run (Streetsblog)
  • Nicholas Soto, 14, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; Driver Summonsed for Tinted Windows (Streetsblog)
  • Martin Srodin, 46, Killed Walking in Queens; No Known Charges [Semi Truck] (Streetsblog)
  • Cooper Stock, 9, Killed in Manhattan; Driver [Yellow Cab] Summonsed for Careless Driving, Failure to Yield (Streetsblog)
  • Martha Tibillin-Guamug, 25, Killed Walking in Queens; No Known Charges [MTA Bus] (Streetsblog)
Marisol Martinez, Anna Maria Moström, Oscar Pauzhi, Kumar Ragunath
Marisol Martinez, Anna Maria Moström, Oscar Pauzhi, Kumar Ragunath
  • Angel Torres, 46, Killed Cycling in Brooklyn; Hit-and-Run (Streetsblog)
  • Edgar Torres, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; No Known Charges [MTA Bus] (Streetsblog)
  • Illuminada Torres, 81, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Galina Truglio, 63, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; No Known Charges (ABC)
  • Agatha Tsunis, 87, Killed Walking in Queens; No Known Charges (Times Ledger)
  • Mohammad Uddin, 14, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; Driver Charged With Leaving Scene (Streetsblog)
  • Marie Valentino, 91, Killed Walking in Staten Island; No Known Charges [DSNY] (CBS)
  • Melania Ward, 55, Killed Walking in Queens; No Known Charges [MTA Bus] (Streetsblog)
  • Jennifer White-Estick, 31, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; Driver [MTA Bus] Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Wayne White, 50, Killed Cycling in Queens; Hit-and-Run (News)
  • Pei Yao Wu, 82, Killed Walking in Brooklyn; Driver Summonsed for Careless Driving, Failure to Yield (Streetsblog)
  • Shan Zheng, 61, Killed Cycling in Manhattan; No Known Charges [Livery Cab] (Streetsblog)
  • Unnamed Male Pedestrian, Killed January 18 in Queens; No Known Charges (Post)
Rylee Ramos, Ruben Rivera, Pedro Santiago
Rylee Ramos, Ruben Rivera, Pedro Santiago
  • Unnamed Maled Pedestrian, Killed March 6 in Queens; Driver Summonsed for Unsafe Backing (TL)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed March 15 in Manhattan; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed March 25 in Queens; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed April 2 in Brooklyn; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed April 3 in the Bronx; Driver Summonsed for Failure to Yield (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed April 21 in Queens; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed May 5 in Brooklyn; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Female Pedestrian, 40, Killed May 8 in Manhattan; Driver [School Bus] Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Unnamed Male Cyclist, 40, Killed May 11 in Queens; Hit-and-Run (Streetsblog)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed May 14 in Brooklyn; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed May 19 in Queens; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Male Cyclist, 40, Killed June 10 in Queens; Driver Ticketed for Speeding (Streetsblog)
  • Unnamed Male Pedestrian, Killed June 26 in Brooklyn; No Known Charges [Flatbed Truck] (SB)
Joie Sellers, Latchman Singh, Cooper Stock
Joie Sellers, Latchman Singh, Cooper Stock
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed July 3 in Brooklyn; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Male Pedestrian, Killed July 5 in Queens; Driver Charged With Homicide, DWI (TL)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed July 13 in Brooklyn; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed July 20 in Brooklyn; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed July 27 in Queens; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Cyclist, Killed July 28 in Queens; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed July 31 in Staten Island; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Female Pedestrian, 79, Killed August 1 in Queens; No Known Charges (News)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed August 1 in Brooklyn; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed August 6 in the Bronx; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Cyclist, Killed August 13 in Queens; No Known Charges [Ambulette] (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Cyclist, Killed August 15 in Brooklyn; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Cyclist, Killed August 19 in Queens; No Known Charges (WNYC)
Angel Torres, Mohammad Uddin, Marie Valentino, Jennifer White-Estick
Angel Torres, Mohammad Uddin, Marie Valentino, Jennifer White-Estick
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed August 28 in Queens; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Male Pedestrian, 53, Killed August 30 in Queens; No Known Charges (TL)
  • Unnamed Cyclist, Killed September 3 in Brooklyn; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Male Pedestrian, 30, Killed September 7 in Brooklyn; No Known Charges (Post)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed September 7 in the Bronx; No Known Charges [Boro Cab] (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Male Pedestrian, Killed October 3 in the Bronx; No Known Charges [MTA Bus] (Streetsblog)
  • Unnamed Male Pedestrian, 86, Killed October 10 in Manhattan; Driver Charged Under Right of Way Law (Post)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed October 17 in Queens; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed October 26 in Brooklyn; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Male Pedestrian, 60, Killed October 29 in Queens; No Known Charges [Cement Truck] (Streetsblog)
  • Unnamed Male Pedestrian, 59, Killed October 30 in Manhattan; Hit-and-Run [Garbage Truck] (Streetsblog)
  • Unnamed Male Pedestrian, 60, Killed November 5 in Queens; No Known Charges [MTA Bus] (News)
  • Unnamed Female Pedestrian, 72, Killed December 3 in Queens; No Known Charges (WNYC)
  • Unnamed Male Pedestrian, 55, Killed December 14 in Brooklyn; Driver [Access-A-Ride] Not Charged (News)
  • Andrew

    Jean Bonne-Annee was killed by a B44 bus driver, Reginald Prescott, on Tuesday evening. Prescott was arrested for failure to yield to a pedestrian.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/25/nyregion/new-york-bus-driver-arrested-after-fatally-striking-pedestrian.html

    …which led to this petition, with the following preamble: “WE ARE WELL TRAINED PROFESSIONAL BUS OPERATORS AND SOME PEOPLE DO THE DUMBEST THINGS WHILE CROSSING THE STREETS OF NY. WE ARE NOT CRIMINALS AND REFUSE TO BE TREATED AS SUCH!!!!!!”

    Apparently Vision Zero hasn’t quite sunk in yet among well trained professional bus operators.

  • Real New Yorker

    Amazing logic. Just because most drivers are safe and fatalities are rare doesn’t mean we just forget the ones that happen. Otherwise the TWU is essentially arguing that a handful of dead pedestrians is just the cost of doing business. It’s an immoral and indefensible position.

  • Brad Aaron
  • I looked at the petition, and think that line might be not be in accordance with moveon.org’s terms of service, which read in part : “Use Common Sense and Company Manners

    Regardless of why you’re here, please be respectful and kind. We know
    you’ve got an issue to raise and passions can run high. We respect that,
    but please leave the verbal boxing for another ring”.

    I’ve contacted moveon.org via…

    http://petitions.moveon.org/do_feedback.html

    And requested they ask the petition maker to change the language. I suggest others do the same.

  • ahwr

    Madeleine Hilaire
    from Brooklyn, NY
    signed this petition on Dec 26, 2014.

    Please change this ridiculous law. An accident remains an accident as long as the driver was not drunk nor high on drugs

  • nanter

    Unfortunately, Mayor de Blasio is a major obstacle to Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero program. How can we expect prosecutors to change their prosecution patterns when every failure to charge killer drivers is met with deafening silence from the mayor’s office? The commitment to Vision Zero has to come from the mayor’s office, and having the mayor essentially ignore the loss of life his initiative is ostensibly meant to prevent is not very inspiring.

    Vision Zero made for a good sound bite to encourage those of us who care about traffic justice during the election, but its implementation is the hard part, and the silence and inaction are quite discouraging.

  • jooltman

    Done, and hope others take a moment to do the same. I usually support MoveOn issues, but the wording of this petition is really offensive.

  • Nell

    What a tragic loss of life – shame on you NYPD

  • I got an auto response from moveon.org that suggested one can also directly contact the petition creator with feed back, simply by clicking on the name of the petition creator, Cyd Campbell. I did so and politely suggested the victim blaming language be changed.

  • I believe that Mayor de Blasio has somewhat limited influence over fellow elected officials like DA’s. It may take going to court to force DA’s to prosecute traffic violence.

  • Kevin Love

    His influence may be limited, but his freedom of speech is not.

    He can at least speak out when an innocent victim (particularly a child!) is brutally killed by a violent, dangerous criminal and a DA enables the criminal by turning a blind eye.

  • Former union member

    Never look to a union to concede the possibility that its members might need to change any of their work practices–never, that is, outside the context of a contract negotiation.

    Steps to improve safety education and culture among drivers ought to be a condition of a future contract. It’s time to start that conversation.

  • And got a positive response this morning from the petition creator. I don’t know if the language can or will be changed, but the petition creator was sympathetic.

  • Andrew

    Definitely not the right message, but I’m less concerned with the message directed to the public than with the internal message to the bus operators themselves.