Pedestrian Fatalities Spark Few Media Questions, Zero Cries for “Justice”

article_1069152_02E8D40300000578_56_233x364.jpgEarly Saturday morning, two 26-year-old women were killed while trying to cross 14th Street at First Avenue in the East Village. According to the Daily News and other outlets, Stephanie Dees (right) and Ann Sullivan were both hit by a taxi traveling west on 14th, and Dees was hit by a second cab, apparently heading east. Reports vary, but most say Dees died at the scene, while Sullivan was pronounced dead at nearby Beth Israel Medical Center.

Dees had dual British citizenship, and had moved to New York recently to pursue an art career. To this point less is known about Sullivan, who was reportedly from Albany.

The area where Dees and Sullivan were hit is a hotbed of pedestrian and cyclist injuries and fatalities. CrashStat indicates seven pedestrian deaths within a two-block radius of 14th and First since 1997, with scores of collisions resulting in injury (map grab after the jump).

Street conditions go unremarked by the News and others, along with other critical details. Did Dees and Sullivan have a walk signal? Were they stranded in the street while trying to cross? How fast were the cab drivers going? Was either of them using a cell phone? If, as the News reports, a passenger in the second cab saw Dees and Sullivan before the collision, why didn’t the driver of the first cab see them? Instead of investigating these and other factors, the News simply relays word from the drivers, who "said they did nothing wrong," and the police, who do not intend to charge either.

14thand1st_2.jpg
CrashStat: Fatalities indicated by pedestrian icon

Both the Times and the UK’s Daily Mail, meanwhile, quoted a witness who says one of the cab drivers was attempting to make the light. From the Mail:

Witnesses claim the pair were hit by the first cab after the driver tried to beat traffic lights changing from amber to red. …

Jorge Medrano, 22, said: "This one taxi tried to beat the light.

"He hit the first girl. She flew up and into oncoming traffic. He ran over the second girl."

Did the police also interview Mr. Medrano? If so, how did his account factor into the investigation (if any)?

Again, we can’t help comparing Saturday’s News story to recent coverage of another pedestrian who was fatally struck while standing in a crosswalk. Unlike the deaths of Dees and Sullivan, the previous incident had the News calling for justice for the victim and her family. The other notable difference: the vehicle in question was a bicycle, rather than a car.

Photo: Daily Mail

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

What’s Your Brooklyn Bridge Ideal?

|
East River bridge traffic counts and configurations through 1989. Source: FHWA [PDF] Over the weekend, a Times op-ed from Robert "The Schluffer" Sullivan proposed physically protected roadway-level bike lanes on the Brooklyn Bridge as a way to eliminate cyclist-pedestrian conflicts and stem anti-cyclist sentiment. Sullivan notes that, about a century ago, when it carried over […]

Electeds Urge DOT to Make Safety Improvements PS 41 Parents Asked For

|
Local, state, and federal electeds are calling on DOT to make long-sought safety improvements in the West Village, including a protected bikeway on Seventh Avenue South. In a June 30 letter to DOT, City Council Member Corey Johnson, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assembly Member Deborah Glick, State Senator Brad Hoylman, and U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler […]

Meatpacking District Will Get a Makeover

|
A rendering of the proposed Gansevoort Plaza, looking southbound. Major public space improvements are on the drawing board for Lower Manhattan’s old Meat-Packing District. Ian Dutton, Houston Street bike safety organizer, professional airline pilot and Streetsblog reader has the report:  Last year, community groups came together as the Greater Gansevoort Urban Improvement Project to develop […]