Why Let a Reckless Driver Behind the Wheel of Your Campaign Bus?

ricatto_vehicle.jpgThe scene of the collision that killed Ibrihim Ahmed. Photo: Dennis Clark/New York Post

The daily papers are reporting on the death of Ibrihim Ahmed, a nine-year-old boy who was struck by a local politician’s campaign bus while walking home from school in Ozone Park yesterday. The fatal collision happened in full view of students and parents at the intersection of Cross Bay Boulevard and Liberty Avenue.

The vehicle that struck Ahmed, described as a motor home by the Daily News, belonged to the campaign of Michael Ricatto, a businessman running for Joseph Addabbo’s vacated seat in the City Council. Behind the wheel: Alexander Aponte, a 22-year-old with a suspended license. The News cites an eyewitness who says, one can assume, that Aponte was accelerating through the intersection:

Witness Raymond Sierra, 19, said it appeared Aponte was attempting to beat the traffic light when he hit the boy, who was walking in the crosswalk.

"It
looked like he was trying to make the light," said Sierra, explaining
that the light had turned yellow when the motor home struck the child.

By all accounts, the intersection is a nightmare to cross. But with all due respect to the distressed Ricatto (Post sub-head: "Candidate Devastated"), the most pressing question is this: Why did his campaign allow someone without a valid license to drive this massive, dangerous vehicle?

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The most pressing question is this: Why did his campaign allow someone without a valid license to drive this massive, dangerous vehicle?”

    This is clearly terrible, and that location is like the intersection of three highways. But what I wonder is who gives a candidate for a local office like this enough money to rent that bus? Given that the office was only vacated in early November?

  • “The police arrested the driver…” For once I get to read these words.

  • Rhywun

    How do you even determine that some kid you just hired has a suspended license? Is there some way for an average person to run a check on the license? Anyway, I’m curious to see if killing a pedestrian while driving illegally merits jail time.

    This of course highlights what a joke this “punishment” is. What percentage of people with suspended or revoked licenses do you think are still driving? I’m guessing somewhere between 99 and 100 percent.

  • “The most pressing question is this: Why did his campaign allow someone without a valid license to drive this massive, dangerous vehicle?”

    Who is actually licensed to drive one of these things? Probably not the average campaign volunteer.

  • David M. Quintana

    Larry…

    Someone left the following comment on my blog:

    “To be fair, you could have called him “Gazillionaire businessman” and let everyone infer.”

    So money wasn’t a problem…

  • “How do you even determine that some kid you just hired has a suspended license?”

    Well, you could start by asking, I guess. Realistically, how this will play out is that Ricatto’s campaign manager will say he asked and that Aponte said he had a valid license, Aponte will corroborate, and it’ll be on him.

    Realistically, I don’t know how much onus there should be on an employer to verify that his employee is being truthful here. The job I had before this one, at one point I used my boss’s car to drive some papers from our office in Midtown to a client’s home in Nassau County for hand delivery. I don’t even know if he asked if I had a license (I do, of course) but if he had asked and I had said yes, I wouldn’t have expected him to verify it.

    Now, if you’re hiring someone to be a driver, and especially of a large vehicle rather than just a garden-variety car, there should presumably be more obligation on the part of the employer.

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