No Charges for UES Motorist Who Killed Senior While Backing Up to Park

Mary Jo Myszelow was killed by a driver backing up to get a parking spot on Madison Avenue near E. 95th Street. No charges were filed. Image: Google Maps
Mary Jo Myszelow was killed by a driver backing up to get a parking spot on Madison Avenue near E. 95th Street. No charges were filed. Image: Google Maps

Another New York City pedestrian has been killed by a motorist backing up in pursuit of a parking space.

At around 5:50 p.m. on March 26, Mary Jo Myszelow, 76, was crossing Madison Avenue near E. 95th Street, east to west, when she was hit with a 2013 Lincoln sedan. The Post reported that the driver, headed north on Madison, “spotted an available spot” and was backing toward it as Myszelow began to cross the street.

WNBC said Myszelow, who suffered a head injury, was “conscious and alert” at the scene. Reports conflict as to whether she died last Thursday or Friday.

Myszelow lived in Cornwall, in Orange County. An obituary published by the Middletown Times Herald-Record, which gives the date of death as March 31, says she once worked at RCA and the United Nations. “Besides being fluent in Italian, she taught English to children while living in Germany,” the obituary says. “As a world traveler Mary Jo visited China, Tibet, Australia, Turkey, Peru, Italy, France, Spain, Morocco, Mexico and the Galapagos Islands.”

The driver who killed Mary Jo Myszelow, whose name was shielded by police, was not charged criminally or issued a traffic ticket. NYPD said Myszelow was crossing in the middle of the block, but state law says “[t]he driver of a vehicle shall not back the same unless such movement can be made with safety.” An NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog the investigation into the crash was ongoing as of this morning.

Myszelow was the second NYC pedestrian known to have been fatally struck by a driver backing up for a parking spot in the last four weeks. Motorists have killed six pedestrians while driving in reverse on New York City streets since May 2015, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog.

Mary Jo Myszelow was one of at least two pedestrians killed by motorists in the 19th Precinct in March. The crash occurred in Community District 8 — where NIMBYs scream bloody murder at the prospect of minor street safety improvements — and in the City Council district represented by Dan Garodnick.

  • Reader

    Any comment from people like Michele Birnbaum and others who think it’s the cyclists who are a danger to seniors and other Upper East Side residents?

    “Adding crosstown bike lanes is like rewarding a spoiled child with a new toy when they misbehave,” she said. “I witness the lawless behavior of bicyclists every day and until all bicyclists obey all the rules of the road and the NYPD provide enforcement, a great majority of pedestrians will continue to feel unsafe.”

  • Joe R.

    Comments like hers almost make me long for the days when crime was so out of control in NYC that “lawless cyclists” weren’t even on anyone’s radar. If she’s a recent transplant maybe I can excuse her nonsensical comment but it wouldn’t surprise me if she’s lived here a long time. How quickly people forget. This is NYC. People haven’t obeyed traffic laws here for as long as I can remember. That includes pedestrians. I’ll bet her and her friends regularly cross midblock and against the light. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but don’t expect perfect behavior from cyclists either. I’m more concerned about motorists not obeying traffic laws since that’s what actually kills people.

  • Komanoff

    Twenty years before Mary Jo Myszelow on the UES there was Mike Regina in SoHo. And the same indifference by the NYPD and the Manhattan DA:

  • Brian Howald

    I believe it was Michele Birnbaum who, at the CB8 Transportation Committee meeting two months ago, as a member, said that cyclists had been “takers” for 40 years, and that we didn’t deserve anything until we started “giving back” to the city that has apparently “given us” so much.

    It was one of the most baffling criticisms of New York City cycling I’ve heard.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    the UES anti bike lane minority is sure going to need smelling salts this summer once Citibike expands from 86th to 125th. The tiny expansion from 60th to 86th last Fall added 3,000 Citibike daily trips to UES plus pethaps another new 750-1,000 private bike trips. Adding 40 blocks of Citibike will generate 6,000 more Citibike trips.

    Citibike plus private bike trips in UES will be around 20 – 24,000 every work day by Labor Day. At those levels of cycling, no need for meager 5′ painted lanes on a few crosstown streets. Cyclists will Own-the-Lane everywhere on UES.

    The tiny minority of UES bike haters are going to suddenly realize their stalling tactics only resulted in cyclists owning 50% of the roadway instead of 5%.

    critical mass is coming this Summer to UES. Get the smelling salts ready

  • new yorker

    Yes, the victim should not have been crossing mid-block. However how fast was this person going (without looking) in order to kill a person when backing into a parking spot? How is that not at least a ticket???

  • AMH

    It’s likely that the victim wasn’t fatally injured from the impact, but by falling and hitting her head. Regardless of speed, it’s still illegal to back up a vehicle unsafely, as happened here.

  • new yorker

    Agreed, that’s why I think the driver is at least negligent and should be subject to a fine.

  • KeNYC2030

    “The investigation into the crash is ongoing” is NYPD speak for “We’re going to sit on this until the safe-streets zealots move on to other tragedies and then we’ll quietly close the case.”

  • neroden

    Someone needs to start arresting criminal cops. The question is who’s going to do it.

  • neroden

    Streetsblog needs to run our own DA candidate. On a “Stop the Manslaughter” platform. The campaign ads write themselves…


No Charges for Drivers Who Killed Seniors in Manhattan and Brooklyn

Two seniors have been killed by motorists in Manhattan and Brooklyn since Saturday. Both crashes were apparently precipitated by careless driving or negligence, according to reports, and both drivers were exonerated by NYPD. Yesterday afternoon, 65-year-old Pelagia Zingatan was struck by a yellow cab driver at 69th Street and First Avenue. From the Post: Zingtapan had […]