New York City motorists killed four people walking and biking this weekend. One of the victims was struck in a Midtown crosswalk while crossing with the right of way, but NYPD and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance haven’t filed charges against the driver.
Po Chu Ng was crossing Sixth Avenue at W. 30th Street at approximately 5:15 Saturday afternoon when a driver struck her with a GMC SUV while turning left onto the avenue, the Daily News and Gothamist reported.
Ng, 52, was pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital. The driver was a 27-year-old man. WABC reporter CeFaan Kim tweeted a photo showing that the SUV had Taxi and Limousine Commission plates. A Daily News photo shows the SUV sitting in the crosswalk with a pool of blood on the street in front of it.
An NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog Ng was crossing Sixth Avenue on the north side of the intersection, west to east, in the crosswalk with the pedestrian signal “in her favor.” But as of this afternoon, the driver, whose name was not released, did not face charges under the Right of Way Law. The spokesperson said the crash is still being investigated.
As part of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, in 2014 NYC adopted the Right of Way Law, which penalizes motorists for harming pedestrians and cyclists who are following traffic rules, and Cooper’s Law, which gives the TLC a mechanism to revoke the TLC licenses of cab drivers who kill people who are walking and biking with the right of way. NYPD enforcement of the Right of Way Law remains inconsistent, and the TLC does not use Cooper’s Law, in part because police and district attorneys rarely file charges after a serious crash.
Three of this weekend’s fatal crashes were hit-and-runs, prompting Transportation Alternatives to call on state lawmakers to act this week to toughen penalties against drivers who flee crash scenes.
At around 12:40 a.m. Saturday, 26-year-old Giovanni Nin was riding his bike on East Tremont Avenue near Mayflower Avenue in the Bronx when he was hit with what police believe was a BMW SUV.
“He was an employee but I treated him like a son,” Nin’s supervisor Jeffrey Rodriguez told the News. “He would do anything for anybody. He’s the hardest worker I’d ever known.”
The motorist who killed Nin did not stop to render or summon aid. NYPD released video of the suspect’s vehicle, a silver BMW X5 with damage to the windshield, hood, and the right side of the front bumper.
On Saturday evening at about 7:52 p.m., a man drove Ford pickup truck into an unidentified woman who was likely riding her bike on the Hudson River Greenway.
Police told Gothamist Samuel Silva and the victim were traveling south on West Street when Silva hit the woman while turning right onto Chambers, then fled the scene. While NYPD did not say the victim was riding on the greenway, a likely scenario based on the description of the crash is that the driver cut across her path and failed to yield as she proceeded south on the greenway with a green light.
WABC reported that Silva was tracked down a short distance away by an off-duty MTA officer. He was charged with manslaughter, drunk driving, and felony leaving the scene, according to court records.
The victim had not been identified as of late this morning, and her age was unknown, NYPD told Streetsblog. [Update: The cyclist killed in the greenway crash was identified as Olga Evgleska Cook, age 30.]
At around 1:19 a.m. Sunday, a hit-and-run driver struck and killed 62-year-old Sharon Smith at East Gun Hill Road and White Plains Road in the Bronx.
“The driver ran into her and drove off,” a witness told the Daily News.
For years, Albany lawmakers have failed to pass legislation that would increase criminal penalties for leaving the scene of a fatal crash. Transportation Alternatives urged legislators to pass bills that would attach class D and class C felonies to hit-and-run crashes resulting in serious injury and death, respectively, before the current session ends Thursday.
Said a statement from TA Executive Director Paul White:
Under current law, drivers who may have consumed alcohol and are then involved in a collision have a strong incentive to flee, since the penalty for a DWI is currently more severe than the penalty for leaving the scene — an act that delays medical attention for victims and undermines investigations.