Truck Driver Charged for Killing Two Pedestrians

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The driver of a private garbage truck has been charged with two counts of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide after striking and killing two British tourists Tuesday night, according to media reports.

Jacqueline Timmins and Andrew Hardie, of Yeovil in southern England, were hit at 10:28 p.m. as they walked on the sidewalk near the entrance to their hotel, a Comfort Inn on W. 35th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Police say the driver of the truck, Auvryn Scarlett, 52, of Irvington, N.J., had a seizure before jumping the curb, barreling down the sidewalk and hitting three people. The truck stopped after slamming into a closed restaurant.

The third pedestrian, Abayomi Henderson, 23, of Queens, is at Bellevue Hospital, where he was in serious but stable condition Wednesday.

Police and the Manhattan DA’s office say Scarlett told investigators that he has a prescription for an anti-seizure drug, which he chose not to take.

"Apparently, he stopped taking his medication," an NYPD spokeswoman told the Daily News. "It was a conscious decision, so he’s being charged."

According to the Times, which talked with officials in New Jersey, where Scarlett has his commercial license, anyone "found to have recurrent seizures" would be disqualified from driving commercial vehicles. Drivers are required to submit a "fitness statement" from a doctor every two years.

A co-worker was in the cab of the truck with Scarlett, but was unable to keep it under control, reports say.

Timmins and Hardie — whose ages are in dispute, though the Times and News say they were both 47 — are the second and third Manhattan pedestrians to die this week. On Monday, Harvey Katz, 69, was hit by a cab and a bus on W. 57th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. He died at Bellevue. No charges were filed.

Photo: Charles Eckert/Newsday

  • Josh

    The cynical side of me strongly believes that the guy would not have been charged if, rather than the medication being the issue, he had simply been driving too fast on a snowy night and lost control of his truck.

  • Jonathan

    But Josh, doesn’t the fact that the NYPD actually went to the trouble of determining that the driver had stopped taking his meds, and then got him charged with manslaughter on that basis, kind of evaporate that cynicism, at least for this week?

    If you ask my opinion, I don’t see much to be cynical about in this incident: a sad and untimely end to what probably had been a very nice vacation.

  • Jeffrey Hyman

    “Too fast” is a lot harder to quantify.

  • JudgeNot

    This is a tragic accident and my heart goes out to all affected by it. I saw on NBC news 4 last night, that Auvryn Scarlett’s neighbors regarded him as a good person and great neighbor, and one day he broke up a fight between two men in his neighborhood and got struck in the head. I don’t know whether he started suffering seizures from then, or if they made his existing condition worse. In any case, he was out of work for 11 months until he finally got the job driving a garbage truck. For whatever reason, he didn’t take his pill that night, maybe his work or med. schedule changed, maybe he forgot, like people forget to take their insulin shot or blood pressure pill… but I don’t know that he’s as reckless as some are making him out to be. I don’t know the man but it scares me to think that he could go to jail for this. Would they do the same to a person who didn’t drink their morning coffee and fell asleep behind the wheel of their car? I’m not trying to be funny or make less of this matter. It just makes me think.

  • Braddy

    The city administration has decided that it can’t allow drivers to kill tourists. That would be bad for the local economy.

  • anonymous

    I agree that it was a tragic accident, and an unfortunate and certainly unintentional mistake on the truck driver’s part, but we have a word for a mistake that kills someone: manslaughter. I would say that it’s perfectly fair to apply the same standard to someone who didn’t drink their morning coffee and fell asleep behind the wheel. Driving is a matter of life and death, and we, as a society, want people to be very careful when they do it, and that includes knowing their own limitations and knowing when they can’t be safe on the road. I’d like to add that the garbage truck company might be partly responsible too, if they didn’t let the unmedicated truck driver say that he can’t drive safely.

  • Morgan

    Oh my gosh, my mum and I met them in the lift, we were staying in the same hotel they were staying in, shown in the picture. It was only yesterday we came back to England. My heart goes out to their children, rest in peace Jacklyn and Andrew.

  • In our (Right Of Way’s) landmark study of pedestrian fatalities in NYC — KILLED BY AUTOMOBILE — we found that private sanitation trucks had the highest kill rate per miles driven of any vehicle type — 66% higher than that for NYC DOS vehicles, and an astounding 17 times higher than the average for all motor vehicles driven in NYC. (Google the report by name, and go to pp 32-35, esp’ly p. 34.)

    The data (1994-1997) are a decade old. NYCDOT could signal its commitment to safe streets by commissioning an update.

  • Lola

    A terrible tragedy for all.

    One hopes that Mr. Scarlett did not forego his medication because he could not afford it–as so many Americans must do these days.

  • ln

    It’s highly possible that he couldnt afford his medication, since, as a driver for a private hauler, he would not have union benefits, as would a NY DOS driver.

    Regularly when such private garbage truck drivers kill cyclists and pedestrians -which they regularly do- they say they didnt see them and are let off for the killing but often get tickets for having an improper license to operate the vehicle. That means they were not properly trained to drive the truck. (ie: when Brandi Bailey and Jamel Lewis were killed). It’s about time one was charged and the company should be charged too.

    Also past due is scrutiny and regulation of private haulers and behavior of the drivers.

    And this company based in NJ presumably didnt pay any state or city taxes either.

  • anonymous

    Some reports said he didn’t take his medication that night, some are saying that he voluntarily stopped. In any case, our society can be very unforgiving for an adult man that can’t work because of an injury or condition and needs to go on disability. SSI checks aren’t as easy to come by as some think. People need to work and jobs aren’t easy to come by. Why would a person prone to seizures WANT a job as a garbage truck driver? Could it be he had no choice? I digress. This is something to be argued out in the courts but he didn’t go to work that night with the intention of killing people, but to earn a living.

  • the mouse

    well, if you’re driving a huge garbage truck i should hope you are capable of operating it safely. and if you have a history of seizures, why the fuck should i care if you forgot your medicine “just once” or whatever? how would it be any different if he got into the truck while drunk? people need to get in BIG trouble for “accidentally” killing people with their cars.

    in my northern california town, a driver recently killed a homeless man who was crossing the street in a cross walk. two of lanes were occupied by vehicles that had stopped for the pedestrian, so the killer took the third, open, lane at twice the speed limit and sent the homeless man flying 130 feet down the street.

    of course, he only gets a few years probation. whatever. it was an “accident.”

  • interesting why he stopped taking his medication, and whether a doctor gave a false report for his cdl as happened in the SI ferry case.
    i don’t think missing one dose of anti seizure med would cause such a reaction, i believe most modern anti convulsants require a blood level, which may take more than 3 days of dosing establish, some take a couple weeks. one of the known side effects of modern anti seizures meds is abrupt discontinuance,(stopping) brings on seizures.

  • michelle

    Sorry for the family that lost their loved ones, my heart definitely goes out for them. I think accidents can happen to anyone who drives, even if he did take his medication there is a possibility that he could still get a seizure attack. it could happen to someone who is on blood pressure medication or heart medication and get a stroke. I think that the driver was a rckless person as the media portrayed him to be, I felt for him and the victims families.

  • michelle

    correction I think that the driver was not a reckless person as the media portrayed him to be.

  • natalie

    Regardless of any other issues, the Federal Medical standards for commercial motor vehicle operators PROHIBIT a driver who requires anti-seizure medication or who has a history of seizures.

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