Unlicensed Van Driver Kills Infant in Stroller on Astoria Boulevard [Updated]

A van driver backing out of a driveway on Astoria Boulevard struck and killed an eight-month-old boy in a stroller at around 10 a.m. this morning.

Navraj Raju
Navraj Raju

The crash happened at 92-20 Astoria Boulevard, according to NYPD, on a block that is saturated with curb cuts. The infant’s mother was pushing him on the sidewalk when the driver reversed into the stroller. The child was pronounced dead at Elmhurst Hospital Center.

The driver was unlicensed, according to NYPD. Charges are pending but have yet to be filed. NYPD policy is to withhold the name of the driver until charges have been filed.

This fatal crash happened in the 115th Precinct. If you’re concerned about traffic safety in the neighborhood, you can speak to commanding officer Michele Irizarry at the precinct community council, which meets on the third Tuesday of every month.

Update: The victim has been identified as Navraj Raju, and the driver as Armando Rodriguez, 44.

In a statement, Transportation Alternatives announced a protest with parents with strollers at City Hall next Thursday, “demanding to know how Mayor de Blasio plans to solve this crisis.”

Sofia Russo, whose 4-year-old daughter was killed by a reckless driver in 2013, said:

As a parent whose little girl was killed by a dangerous driver, I was so hopeful to hear about Vision Zero at the start of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, but without a tangible commitment from his administration, we’ll never reach that vision. To hear that another parent has lost a child is devastating. If Mayor de Blasio is serious about Vision Zero, I want to see him support this safety initiative with real resources and funding.

92-20_astoria_blvd
The block of Astoria Boulevard in East Elmhurst where a van driver backed over and killed an infant in a stroller this morning. Image via Google Street View

Correction: This post originally cited a police spokesperson who said the driver would be charged with unlicensed operation and DWI, but the DWI charge hasn’t been confirmed. The post has been amended to reflect that.

  • Dammit, what a sad tragedy. Anytime I go for a run and head down Astoria Blvd it is a nightmare even for just a few blocks, especially in the 90s and 100s. Lots of places cars just pulling in and out of recklessly. Stores. Driveways. Cars parked all over sidewalks. It’s a Vision Zero nightmare next to a speedway. I walked with my boy on it in his stroller once for a lengthy portion. Never again. I actually think walking down Northern Boulevard is safer.

  • gneiss

    The implication with the NYPD statement that focuses on the driver being unlicensed and drunk is that if these conditions didn’t exist and a child was killed, there would be no charges and this would be considered just another “accident”. While it is important to recognize that being drunk and not having a proper license are problems, the reckless driving and infrastructure leading to death are the bigger issues here.

  • J

    Amazed the NYPD didn’t blame the infant.

  • JudenChino

    In this case, I think the driver would’ve gotten a failure to yield misdemeanor citation regardless. But still a very light punishment for killing someone when you’re at clear fault.

  • Here’s a tweet (of many) about the 115th obsession of ticketing bikes on 34th Avenue bike lane but doing just about nothing to drivers. I see bike tix written every day. But they ignore double parking in bike lanes (drive right past over and over) and when they are trying to get people moving on Northern they just come up behind the car and flash lights and siren. No tickets.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5b6142662443d0f8f1beea67d18077c7c155335ba7363df013136d326986a39b.jpg

  • Parent

    Time for Mayor de Blasio to get out of his SUV and perhaps hold a press conference to update everyone on how Vision Zero is going to be fixed.

  • Kevin Love

    Was the baby wearing a helmet?

  • Ddinox64

    Liberal thinking suggests letting illegals get driver licenses they’d also buy insurance and be safer drivers is preposterous. Not even legal residents have licenses or insurance. Daily on the radio is reported at least ten hit and runs. Can’t all be illegals. Government soft on crime makes people not care about anything or anyone.

  • Brad Aaron

    What the hell are you talking about.

  • Brad Aaron

    The Post ran a quote from a guy who knows the driver and blamed the mother. Then they deleted it.

  • AMH

    Wow. The media have learned nothing.

  • Yeah. What??

  • JamesR

    Taming these outer borough car sewers is the next great challenge for this movement. Because there are so many more drivers and so much more of an aspirational car culture, it’s going to be a hell of a fight.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    The use of the memory hole by the New York tabloids is the farthest thing from responsible journalism.

  • Pat

    That entire block to the deli is basically one 170ft long curb cut.

  • DEADP00L

    The guy has a Mexican sounding name ergo he’s an illegal; to his special mind, that’s what the douche is talking about.

  • Jesse

    The nicest thing I can think to say is that I admire Streetsblog’s very inclusive policy on comments.

  • JudenChino

    It can be done though. It just requires political will. Can you believe the transformation taking place with Qnz Blvd?!? Hard to think of a worse car sewer than that one — has it’s own freaking subway line running above/underneath for long portions too!

  • JudenChino

    Could you “close” those curb cuts legally? I wonder if it’d be considered “a taking,” in other words, a taking of property by the government requiring compensation? Those curb cuts effectively neuter the sidewalk as a pedestrian refugee and directly led to this poor baby’s death. An 8 month old baby!!!!!!! Where is DeBlasio on this shit! Handing out pamphlets telling driver’s to be safer?!?!?

  • Brad Aaron
  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    The sad thing is how many of our subway lines have car sewers above or below. It’s like TOD’s evil doppelganger, complete with cars parked on the sidewalks and the kind of businesses that tint the windows of black Camaros. Oh, and medical offices and senior citizen daycares just for the added danger.

  • WalkingNPR

    I guess the baby didn’t do his part?

    This is truly my worst fear every time I leave the hose with my kid.

  • Cold Shoaler

    This city needs a full cub cut audit. It is beyond ridiculous. There are vestigial cub cuts from driveways that haven’t existed for decades yet busy pedestrian corners that have never been ADA complaint.

  • van_vlissingen

    Astoria Blvd looks the way it does because it was intended to be converted to an expressway. http://www.nycroads.com/roads/astoria/
    In fact, this explains the configuration of most outer borough traffic sewers: they haven’t changed since the time when Moses had big plans for these roads.
    The city should consider slightly upzoning and disallowing curb cuts along with lane reconfiguration to completely transform this street.

  • NY1’s coverage still has a quote and some more.

    “”His friends were also stunned by the news, calling it a freakish accident. One man said the driver could not see the woman or her child because of where they were positioned behind the vehicle.

    “He’s a good guy. The driver is a very good guy,” the man said. “He’s very careful all the time, you know.””

    It’s positively chilling that they’re talking about a guy without a drivers licence (who also may have been charged with DWI) who killed a baby in a stroller. Worse than the common tendency to label events like this as “accidents” is the just as common victim blaming.

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