Victim-Blaming Commences After Bruckner Boulevard Claims Another Life

Was this driver adhering to the 25 miles per hour speed limit before fatally striking a pedestrian on Bruckner Boulevard?Does it matter to NYPD? Image: News 12
Was this driver adhering to the 25 miles per hour speed limit before fatally striking a pedestrian on Bruckner Boulevard? Does it matter to NYPD? Image: News 12

A motorist struck and killed a man last night on Bruckner Boulevard, a Bronx street designed to facilitate speeding and one of the borough’s most dangerous places to walk.

The victim was attempting to cross Bruckner near East 149th Street at around 12:30 a.m. Monday when he was hit by the driver of a BMW SUV. The impact was severe enough to cause major damage to the vehicle and, according to police, injure the driver and a passenger. Images show the SUV with a concave grille and hood and a hole in the windshield.

News 12 aired video of what happened immediately after impact:

Surveillance video of the accident appears to show the person hit being dragged several feet by the SUV. The vehicle smokes up, and a police car and other vehicles soon make their way over to the crash.

The victim was a 23-year-old man whose name had not been released by NYPD as of late this morning, pending family notification.

The speed limit on Bruckner Boulevard is 25 miles per hour. But the street, which runs below the Bruckner Expressway, is designed like a highway, with up to 10 lanes in some locations, counting service roads and turn lanes (see Google Maps embed below). With five deaths from 2012 to 2014, drivers killed more pedestrians on Bruckner Boulevard than on any other Bronx street except the Grand Concourse, according to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

DOT identified Bruckner Boulevard as a priority for safety fixes in the Vision Zero Bronx pedestrian safety action plan. “Bruckner Boulevard is a very wide, multi-lane boulevard,” DOT project manager Kimberly Rancourt told Bronx Community Board 2 last year. “It has lots of traffic but it also has excess space that isn’t needed for capacity.”

In 2015 DOT installed a protected bikeway on a segment of Bruckner north of last night’s crash scene, and south of this location, some safety improvements are in the pipeline for the intersection with 138th Street. DOT has said it intends to extend the bikeway south to create a seamless connection to the Randall’s Island Connector, but has not provided a timetable for that redesign.

The 41st Precinct, where last night’s crash occurred, tickets an average of around three speeding drivers per day. A Daily News photo shows a digital “SLOW DOWN” sign on Bruckner behind the BMW.

Despite heavy damage to the vehicle and the death and injuries caused by last night’s collision, the police spokesperson we talked with said there was nothing in the preliminary crash report to suggest investigators were considering the role of driver speed. News 12 reported that, according to police, “it appears there is no criminality on the driver’s part.”

Instead, NYPD and the media heaped blame on the deceased victim. Police told Gothamist and News 12 that the victim had stolen beer from a nearby deli and was running away when he was struck.

The Daily News said the victim “darted into the roadway” but did not question how fast the driver was going, or even acknowledge that a driver was involved in the crash.

Said WPIX reporter Rick Boone: “That driver stayed on the scene after this 23-year-old made contact with his vehicle. The contact was pretty massive.”

No news reports that we’ve seen mention street design or a lack of speed enforcement as factors in this deadly crash, just a victim allegedly running with some stolen beer. But refusing to see the real problems on Bruckner Boulevard will only lead to more deaths.

  • WalkingNPR

    “The contact was pretty massive.”

    So the pedestrian splayed himself out or jumped up and down on the SUV to make a bigger contact? Is that what we’re imagining rather than admitting the level of damage to that SUV is evidence of speeding? It must be fun living in the world of windshield perspective imagination.

  • Brad Aaron

    The verbiage in that story is so twisted it’s almost impressive.

  • com63

    Shouldn’t a newer car like this have a black box that would tell investigators how fast the car was going? It seems like this would be easy to find and report.

  • djx

    Look at that car – it must have been going wicked fast. That’s the problem.

  • Maggie

    Wow. I run this pretty often. I had no idea the speed limit was 25 mph here. From how traffic moves I thought it was 45 mph.

  • SSkate

    “In 2015 DOT installed a protected bikeway on a segment of Bruckner north of last night’s crash scene…”

    That would be about 4 blocks north.

    I skated that protected three-block section a few weeks ago and was not impressed. The northern two blocks of it is apparently just sidewalk, good in the sense that it’s obviously not roadway and cars don’t drive on it but otherwise, meh. The block btw Longwood and Tiffany though, I was nervous about because I couldn’t decide whether I was still on the bike path or using a temporarily empty traffic lane. Signage just seemed poor all around.

  • AnoNYC

    The northern section isn’t even complete yet. It’s been a slow process.

    The southern section is a real mess in the 130s and 140s. It’s dangerous for all users, including drivers.

  • AnoNYC

    Average speed is about 40-50 MPH along Bruckner Blvd.

  • Frank Kotter

    Gonna have to pull out my redneck card here as someone who has been involved in 5 car-deer collisions. Running the gambit of speed of travel and size of deer, I can attest to the fact that either the victim was running at the vehicle at over 40 mph and was over 250 pounds or the car was travelling way over 60 mph

    I’ve forgotten once again, which amendment prohibits the use of speed cameras?

  • But why would they look, they already know the pedestrian was at fault, that’s all they need to know.

  • Brad Aaron

    Back when I used to drive everywhere, all the time, I hit a doe with an ’84 Oldsmobile at roughly 55 mph. The deer easily weighed 125 lbs. The resulting damage to the car: one busted headlight and a dented front fender.

    The deer died, of course. She is one of the reasons I no longer drive everywhere all the time.

  • qrt145

    I’m not saying the killer here was driving at any reasonable speed, but it is often said that back in the day the cars were more solid…

  • Frank Kotter

    Yes, many variables. That’s why I thought I would share my anecdote as I personally was involved in so many of them. Fact of the matter: This driver was going at a speed will beyond ‘speeding’ and was up in the range of ‘I am an entitled asshole and have a complete and utter disregard for my personal responsibility’.

  • SSkate

    I was referring overall to the three blocks from Longwood to Hunts Point Ave. Was under the impression that section was “done”, but perhaps I mis-understood the tweet that DOT put out a couple months ago when concrete was poured.

  • Maggie

    Driver of a luxury vehicle hitting and killing a young man from the Bronx on Bruckner Boulevard is literally the start of Bonfire of the Vanities.

    Life imitates art. I forget how Tom Wolfe’s fictional cops investigated Sherman McCoy.

  • AnoNYC

    Concrete has finally been poured but the traffic signals are not in operation so it’s dangerous getting between them with the turning truck traffic. No signage or delineations on the road either. The section protected by a Jersey Barrier really needs a bollard too before some driver flies into it and kills someone at high speed. Drivers have already been using the Jersey Barrier lane near the drawbridge as a shortcut during heavy traffic.

  • SSkate

    It’s that section with the Jersey barrier that really had me wondering if I was in the right place.

  • AnoNYC

    There really needs to be a bollard there. I’m going to email the community board.

  • AMH

    It’s a BINO (Boulevard In Name Only)

  • thomas040

    Could we please stop calling it “accidents” It’s a crash. Accidents happen. Crashes can be prevented. “Accident” connotate relinquishing responsibility.

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