Driver Kills Senior on One of NYC’s Most Dangerous Streets, and NYPD Blames the Victim

The NYPD public information office said it had only preliminary details, and that the investigation was ongoing. That didn't stop police sources from publicly absolving the driver.

Flatbush Avenue at Avenue M. Photo: Google Maps
Flatbush Avenue at Avenue M. Photo: Google Maps

A driver killed a senior on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn Sunday night. Though the investigation remains open, NYPD told the media the victim was at fault.

The crash occurred at around 10:45 p.m. The victim, an 83-year-old man whose name had not been released as of this afternoon, was crossing Flatbush east to west at Avenue M when he was hit by the driver of a Toyota sedan, who was southbound on Flatbush, NYPD told Streetsblog.

Avenue M meets Flatbush at a T intersection with no traffic signals and unmarked crosswalks across Flatbush. The NYPD office of public information (DCPI) couldn’t say where the victim was in relation to the crosswalks, yet police sources told the Post he wasn’t where he was supposed to be:

The man suffered severe head and body trauma and was taken to Beth Israel Hospital, where he died.

He was not in the crosswalk when he was struck, cops said.

The 54-year-old driver remained on scene and was not immediately charged with a crime.

The Post published a photo of the vehicle’s dented and cracked windshield, an indication of a high-speed collision. DCPI had no information on how fast the driver was going.

The police spokesperson emphasized that DCPI had only preliminary information and that the investigation was ongoing. But that didn’t stop NYPD sources from publicly absolving the driver after the crash when speaking to the Post, which labeled the elderly victim a “jaywalker” in its headline.

Flatbush Avenue is Brooklyn’s most dangerous street for walking, according to DOT’s pedestrian safety action plan for Brooklyn, with 23 crashes resulting in death or severe injury to pedestrians between 2009 and 2013.

DOT singled out Flatbush for Vision Zero safety improvements, but the Avenue M crossing is not one of the intersections the city has chosen to alter.

Sunday’s fatal collision occurred in the 63rd Precinct, and in the City Council district represented by Jumaane Williams. Williams has called for traffic-calming measures on Flatbush Avenue, but more recently criticized the city’s 25 mph speed limit as “impractical” and “arbitrary.”

  • Sounds like somebody has to put a question to the mayor again

  • reasonableexplanation

    the vehicle’s dented and cracked windshield, an indication of a high-speed collision

    Is this true though?

    Windshields can be smashed by punching them: see here: http://nypost.com/2017/01/23/drunk-man-jumps-on-nypd-car-punches-windshield/

    A trained heavyweight boxer punches at about 25mph, and a regular person much less than that.

    I wouldn’t call a car traveling significantly less than 25mph “high-speed.”

  • Jeff

    So I guess the entire intersection will be cordoned off with security barriers regardless of the impact on vehicular circulation, as per NYPD’s new policy?

  • Morris Zapp

    If someone is driving fast enough to strike a person, propelling the victim into the air, onto the hood, and into the windshield with sufficient force to punch or nearly punch a hole through the glass – not with a closed fist, but with the victim’s skull – that driver is traveling at a speed that is unsuitable for the pedestrian environment.

    Your constant victim blaming under the guise of “just sayin’” contrarianism is tiresome. At least have the decency to say what you mean.

  • reasonableexplanation

    It should be easier to crack a windshield with a skull than with a fist at the same speed, given that a person’s head is much heavier than their hand. (about 8x heavier).

    Let me be very clear about what I mean: I think streetsblog is coming to a conclusion about the speed of a car involved in a collision based on a faulty assumption to push their overall agenda, and does so very often.

    I have no opinion of whether the victim deserves any blame in this case. The driver could have been haulin’ ass/ looking at their phone/etc. The pedestrian could have been crossing where they shouldn’t have been without even glancing at approaching traffic. I don’t know yet, and neither do you.

    What I do know is that photo of the broken windshield is not by itself an indication that the motorist was traveling at an excessive speed.

    I know on this blog it’s taken as a joke when the NYPD blames jaywalking for a collision, and I understand why: most readers on here presumably jaywalk responsibly; looking to make sure the path is clear, or that they have enough enough time to cross. I do so myself and have no issue with it as a driver, biker, or motorcyclist either.

    What some of my fellow responsible jaywalkers may not realize (especially if they don’t drive much), is the small minority of irresponsible jaywalkers, who quite literally walk out into traffic without looking, often with their back to it. My fellow bike riders probably know these folks, as they do the same when they wander into bike lanes.

    These folks have a share of the blame when collisions happen.

  • I as a bicyclist am certainly very annoyed by people who walk into the street without looking where they are going. But the responsibility remains mine to not hit these (stupid) people.

    The point is this: if a driver or a bicyclist cannot stop at the sudden appearance of a pedestrian, then that driver or cyclist is operating his/her vehicle too fast for the conditions, or is not paying sufficient attention to the surroundings, or both.

    So, no; your “irresponsible jaywalker” carries no part of the blame for being hit by a driver or a cyclist who is failing to fulfill his/her obligation to drive or ride safely.

  • betty barcode

    Here’s the thing: when you grant drivers the presumption of innocence, you by definition burden cyclists & pedestrians with the presumption of guilt.

  • reasonableexplanation

    I’m going to go ahead and disagree. If you’re going 25mph (or whatever the current limit is) in the city, paying attention, and in a section that pedestrians have no business being (between intersections, straight through a green light, etc); you’re not going too fast for the conditions.

    To put it another way, if you’re going at a speed where you can react to anything that you should be expecting, and the only thing that could potentially cause a collision is someone else acting in an extremely reckless manner (which no-look jaywalking is), then that’s on them.

  • ohhleary

    The evidence doesn’t support your theory that the victim “stepped into traffic.” The victim was walking from east to west and hit by a southbound vehicle, which means he had been well into the street if he was hit in the southbound lanes.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Please read my comments again: I have no opinion on this specific incident; there’s not enough info out there to form an opinion.

    The discussion was about the (in my opinion erroneous) determination of the car’s speed based on windshield damage, and went on to be about other incidents in general.

    If the guy was in fact hit in the place you describe (streetsblog is very adamant about treating any initial collision reports with a grain of salt), then the driver could have been speeding or distracted, or the pedestrian could have been standing on the yellow line waiting to cross, and misjudged; or one of many other situations could have happened.

  • ohhleary

    Oh, so you’re just saying “jaywalkers, who quite literally walk out into traffic without looking” with no ulterior motive related to this incident. I get it.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Look dude, you’re free to read through the thread and see how the discussion went from one topic to the other, or you can decide I’m a bike hating, victim blaming, andrew cuomo loving monster. It’s your call.

  • If you’re going 25mph (or whatever the current limit is) in the city, paying attention, and in a section that pedestrians have no business being (between intersections, straight through a green light, etc); you’re not going too fast for the conditions.

    You’ve got the wrong end of that. The reasonable conclusion is that, if the speed limit allows a driver to go so fast that he or she cannot stop at the sudden appearance of a pedestrian, then the speed limit has been set too high.

    And, in fact, speed limits are typically set far too high. My brother lives on Long Island just off Old Country Road, a street whose speed limit is 40 miles per hour.

    Yesterday I rode my bike to Philadelphia, from where I am writing this now. At one point on Route 27 in New Jersey, I saw a sign asking drivers to “give us a brake” and slow down, even though there was, just a few yards ahead, another sign announcing a speed limit of a shocking 50 miles per hour.

    Absolutely no road that is not a limited-access highway should have a speed limit of 40 or 50 miles per hour; and even 25 miles per hour is too fast for most urban settings.

    To put it another way, if you’re going at a speed where you can react to anything that you should be expecting, and the only thing that could potentially cause a collision is someone else acting in an extremely reckless manner (which no-look jaywalking is), then that’s on them.

    No; it is never on them.

    The only place where a driver is justified in not expecting a pedestrian is a place where pedestrians are not legally permitted to be, i.e., a highway.

    But, on a normal street, drivers and bicyclists have the moral obligation to accommodate all pedestrians — even the reckless and utterly clueless ones. We need a legal framework that recognises this reality.