Breaking Carnage: Driver on Sidewalk at Court and Degraw

This just in from Streetsblog contributor Laura Conaway:

Bystanders said a driver, an older woman, had a stroke while behind the wheel and hit several cars. She was traveling south on Court Street and hit her first car, so far as I could tell, at the corner of Degraw Street.

This happened minutes before 8 a.m. I had just stepped out of the house to buy a loaf of bread on that corner. Apparently the police were able to stop her right after it happened, but the whole scene was straight out of Jane Jacobs, with people racing out of stores to help.

On my way to the store, I happened to see an older gentleman walking a dog — recognized them both, just people from the neighborhood. That’s his dog, Muffin, lying dead under a brown towel, in the picture.

Looked like the original driver, the one with the stroke, rear-ended this red car, which then went up on the curb near a very popular coffee shop, D’Amico’s. Ten minutes later and coffee-drinkers would have lined that stretch of sidewalk.

The car was stopped a block away.

Note: A pedestrian may have been struck by one of the vehicles involved. This has not been confirmed.


  • JS

    Thank you for posting. This happened right in front of my house and gathering details after it happened was difficult. Frankly I am shocked that no one else posted anything online earlier – I have been looking for it online all morning. I thought the blogging stroller mothers of Cobble Hill would have been all over it by now. It was a very disturbing incident to hear and then see this morning.

  • court_st_hustla

    Way out of line JS . . .

  • Steve

    Folks have heard me say this before but it bears repetition: motoring in a pedestrian-rich environment like NYC is like firing a loaded gun. If you aim right and pull the trigger at just the right time, no one gets hurt, but if something goes wrong (and if the report of the driver’s stroke is true then this is about as blameless a collision as there can be), the consequences are disastrous. Why do we even allow this activity, much less subsidize and encourage it?

  • Brooklyn

    Blameless? The old bag was probably seeing stars and couldn’t feel her left hand hours before, but she got in the car to drive anyway.

  • Steve

    First time I’ve been attacked for being sympathetic to a motorist! (You’ll note that I did not actually call her “blameless”).

  • Blair

    How is JS out of line?

  • bree

    Carnage? It was an accident for God’s sake. Anyway you look at it. I doubt if someone got up this morning and said…umm let me intentionally hit someones car and cause some devastation.The facts are not known and all the unnecessary diatribe. Pray for all involved and keep blaming to selves until the facts are presented.

  • Jase

    I think JS offended a strolling mother in Cobble Hill.

  • Taksa

    I walk around this area of Carroll Gardens every day and very often see people who are way too old to drive creating dangerous situations. I’ve seen giant 1970s boats being driven backwards on one way streets. I’ve seen a very old woman repeatedly banging, and banging hard, into the cars in front and behind her as she was attempting to park. Numerous times I watched the elderly run through red lights and stop signs without even a thought of slowing down. It’s just scary. Yes, I know we have plenty of able-bodied younger people doing all this and worse, but these are just morons. Yet these senior citizens are all beyond the age of driving and are making these errors most likely because they no longer have the needed mental and physical abilities. They need to be seriously tested on a regular basis and once they fail the test, their licenses should be taken away for good. And then, if we could just ban all oversized private cars and SUVs and charge steep congestion fees in all of the City, we’ll be so much better off. (I can dream, can’t I?)

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Yeah, everyone should be tested more frequently in the should be category. However, Court St. also suffers from excessive speeds and very little enforcement of the speed or the lights. It is also a one-way rat run for commuters escaping the BQE-Gowanus combo. Oddly, one-way Court St. was cited as a “good” traffic street in the battle over one-way streets in the next neighborhood over, No-Where-to-Park Slope.

  • Old Bag

    I guarantee that if you removed all drivers over the age of 70, traffic speed would increase at least 5%. We contribute to traffic calming at least as much as we contribute to carnage.

  • Old bag has a point. We could just as easily complain about young drivers who go too fast, or men who are more likely to have road rage problems.

    The question is why didn’t this woman have some alternative to driving? I mean, maybe she did and she’s just selfish, but older folks may drive because the bus stop is too far or the service at the bus stop could be patchy and slow.

    One thing the city ought to work on is making subway stops more handicapped accessible. I know a few older folks who have a lot of pain from the stairs. The elevators are often broken or they smell… different… that is at the few stops that have them.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Lots of old folks, my relatives, lifers in that neighborhood, hold onto their vehicles as a sign of their youth and vigor. It is very difficult to pry an older relative’s arthritic fingers off of the steering wheel. Impossible in some circumstances. What you need is politicians with balls enough to step up and regulate their ability to do so. You should see it in Florida, or other corners of God’s Country, where there really aren’t a lot of options.

  • bigmissfrenchie

    How about a little sympathy for poor Muffin and her owner?

  • Taksa

    Yes, Old Bag, you’re probably right. Can we hire you and your pals to works as moving roadblocks on Henry, Court and Smith Streets? Just drive really slowly, but carefully, side-by-side with one of your girlfriends. I am sure we’d have a much more pleasant and safe neighborhood.
    As far as Muffin goes, it’s just tragic. I knew Muffin and have seen her owner many times. What a dreadful loss.

  • Taksa

    And, Susan, you’re absolutely right too. Those little buses for seniors are notoriously late and unreliable. We need better options. Yet we still have so many more options than the rest of the country. My ageing parents live in a small town in New England and once they stop driving they’ll be relying on younger friends or stay homebound. I am trying to convince them to move to the City, so that they could get around more easily.

  • lb

    I think Carroll Gardens is more threatened by the driving hijinks of our local cops than old folks. How many times have you seen traffic on Court at a stand-still as cops pull their cars up next to each other to chat? How many times have you had to jump out of the intersection as they gun it through red lights? They shake my faith in the goodness of the force–if they like to flaunt small laws, what else are they up to? Although, in CG, maybe a lot–at least traditionally.


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