Pedestrian Dead After Van Drags Him 17 Miles

This de-humanizing violence is beyond belief. From City Room:

A pedestrian was struck by a sport utility vehicle on a street in Corona, Queens, on Wednesday morning, then immediately struck again by a cargo van that dragged the victim 17 miles through a web of city highways and to Coney Island in Brooklyn, the police said. The pedestrian, apparently a male, was killed.

The victim had not yet been identified, though some paperwork was found in the clothing on his body, which was wedged under the van’s chassis, the police said. The authorities said there did not appear to be any criminality involved.

No "criminality" — in other words, we can probably rule out drugs and alcohol. Few details have surfaced about the circumstances of the initial collision, other than the SUV driver opting not to leave the scene. Here’s NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly on the van driver’s response:

"He apparently felt something," Mr. Kelly said. "The car was not driving in a normal fashion."

Details are still emerging, but it’s safe to say that at the moment of impact, the van driver was careless enough not to notice that he’d run over another human being. Shouldn’t he have seen something before he "felt something"? I’m having trouble comprehending how a driver can be so disconnected from the world outside his car as to allow this to happen. Lives are at stake here. Does the NYPD not believe that drivers must stay aware of their surroundings?

  • Every time something like this happens, we keep hoping that it will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. We keep hoping it will wake people up to the NYPD’s culture of blaming victims, the need for safer streets, and the desire to honor the lives of those needlessly lost by changing our car-centric culture.

    Unfortunately, this will just be chalked up to some blanket statement, like “the guy probably didn’t have the right of way,” or “it was dark outside, it’s not his fault,” or “New Yorkers are bad drivers.”

    What will it take?!

  • oscar

    what will it take?

    probably some celebrity or model being run over by an immigrant

  • oscar

    or the child of someone rich/powerful/famous, unlike the recent Chinatown incident which was “just” some local kids

  • Rhywun

    Um, wow. How much more outrageous are these stories going to get?

    PS. When my older brother was teaching me how to drive, he told me that it was *my* responsibility to be vigilant at all times because you never know when someone is going to shoot out into the road. Do people even get that message any more?

  • t

    At this point, a car would have to drag thousands upon thousands of people to their deaths in one day for people to wake up. These incidents, as horrific as they are, barely register as a blip on the radar screen for anyone outside of the blog-reading public, even though most of us here see the sum total of all of these “accidents.” The sad truth is that this incident is a two-minute segment on the news for most people, if it’s that at all.

  • Freedom Rides? Bus Boycotts? March on New York? What do pedestrians and cyclists have to do to start turning the tide against vehicular mayhem, with consequences only for the victims?

  • Marty Barfowitz

    At this point, a car would have to drag thousands upon thousands of people to their deaths in one day for people to wake up.

    I don’t know. Maybe if the car were driven by Osama bin Laden, that might do the trick. Otherwise, I think D.A. Morgenthau is just going to keep on napping. The guy is useless on this issue. So is Ray Kelly. Mayor Bloomberg, hello? Wake up. Do you see what’s happening on your city streets? Does it not disgust you? Me and my family have, essentially, zero concern about being killed by a gun on the streets of NYC at this point. If we’re going to be harmed by a stranger, we know that the chances are it’ll be in some sort of traffic violence. That’s our crime concern.

  • bb

    “later told the police that he saw vehicles in traffic ahead of him swerving,”

    The American years of manufactured genocide.

  • rex

    I feel your frustration. I think we need to move outside our group and begin new conversations. This is a human rights issue, not a new urbanist issue, or a peak oil issue, this is an issue of people being deprived of the right to live.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Personally, I miss the “Weekly Carnage” feature you used to run. It was my most emailed piece from this site. I am curious as to how the editorial decision making went to cut it. Was it a thing of where you thought it was distracting from building the political center of gravity around streets issues? Or, was it just too much work to compile the mountain of weekly fuck ups that drivers foist on themselves and everyone else?

  • JohnT

    One thing’s for sure: We will never see a report of a bicyclist striking and killing a pedestrian and then dragging him along for 17 miles, unaware, will we?

  • “what will it take?

    probably some celebrity or model being run over by an immigrant”

    Car-free celebrities/models? 😉

  • dporpentine

    This is the second time this week that pedestrians have been hit twice by different vehicles. Two times in one week. It’s unbelievable. This is a crazed system.

    For those who missed the first one, the story is here:

  • I’d love to get the Weekly Carnage going again, Niccolo. The guy who was producing it for us, Aaron Donovan, got a new job and stopped having time to continue doing it. We tried out another guy, he couldn’t hack it, and the feature just sort of faded away. But Donovan wrote up a nice “How to” document. We could pay someone a modest fee for producing it. It requires three to five hours a week to really do it right plus a certain level of obsessiveness that can’t be taught. We should probably put a job ad up here on the blog and see if we can get it going again.

  • rex

    Aaron make the carnage cast coast to coast, and twitter whenever a road death occurs.

  • Antonio

    Eric, you’re on to something: civil disobedience against the violence of the private automobile. But the ideology of car-centricity is so strong, any such activism would read as “crazy” today. It’s going to take decades of work to shift the consciousness and the policies of this country on the car.

  • Peter Flint

    RE: “civil disobedience against the violence of the private automobile”

    Isn’t that pretty much what the Critical Mass people have be trying, at least in part? And we know how effective that’s been! I don’t have much respect for the Crit Mass approach, but the police and the city seem to have no problem treating hundreds of bicyclists riding en masse as criminals either. It’s going to take more than that to get the attention of the powers-that-be.

  • bob previdi

    How many people have to die before we set penalties for hitting or killing someone with a car.

    This is totally within our control to legislate but we need to take action.

    If the NYPD report says the car was not driving normally – what constitutes “not normally” I doubt it is something we can prosicute.

    We need black boxes in cars – tie them to phone/text/email records and start doing this more professionally. Then have rules that make drivers accoutable.

  • Critical Mass has indeed tried to accomplish this, but rightly or wrongly, it’s perceived by many as a “fringe” movement. Too many people still view cyclists as freaks, and no small number are seemingly more concerned with someone on a bike rolling through a red light than they are with an SUV driver plastering a pedestrian.

    The Civil Rights movement reached a tipping point in the ’60s when otherwise unengaged folks started seeing clips on the evening news of fire hoses and police dogs being unleashed on school children in places like Birmingham. We need moms with kids in strollers to get mad, and to stand with we cyclists and Livable Streets advocates in demanding change.

  • Air
  • Here’s what happened in just the past two weeks in New Jersey, ending on Monday the 9th. Unconfirmed rumors say that half of the traffic fatalities so far in New Jersey have been pedestrians.

    Celebration followed by tragedy
    The Record • Friday, January 30, 2009

    Hit-run driver kills woman in Downtown Jersey City
    The Jersey Journal • Friday, January 30, 2009

    Cops ID pedestrian killed on Rt. 9
    Asbury Park Press • Thursday, January 29, 2009

    Man struck by NJ Transit bus in Butler
    Daily Record • Thursday, January 29, 2009

    Follow-up: Pedestrian dies after last week’s accident)
    (follow-up to this original story
    Asbury Park Press • Wednesday, January 28, 2009

    No traffic light, lamp or chance for lady hit on Ave. C
    The Jersey Journal • Thursday, January 29, 2009

    North Bergen hit-run victim tentatively identified
    The Jersey Journal • Wednesday, February 4, 2009

    Child (pedestrian) dies after car, fire truck collide in Trenton
    The Times of Trenton • Saturday, January 31, 2009

    Vehicle strikes Clarksboro man in crosswalk
    Gloucester County Times • Tuesday, February 3, 2009

    School bus strikes woman
    The Record • Tuesday, February 3, 2009

    Pedestrian hit
    The Record • Wednesday, February 4, 2009

    Pedestrian reportedly struck near Somerville Circle in Bridgewater
    Courier News • Friday, January 30, 2009

    Pedestrian hit in Monroe (Gloucester Co.)
    Gloucester County Times • Saturday, January 31, 2009

    Tinton Falls man struck and killed on highway off-ramp
    Asbury Park Press • Monday, February 9, 2009

    53-year-old Point Pleasant woman struck, killed on Route 88
    Asbury Park Press • Monday, February 9, 2009

    Gloucester Twp. hit-and-run critically injures girl (riding bike)
    Courier-Post • Monday, February 9, 2009

    Woman struck by car in bar parking lot
    The Record • Thursday, February 5, 2009

    Teen pedestrian struck by vehicle
    Today’s Sunbeam • Saturday, February 7, 2009

    Hospital visitors struck by car
    The Record • Monday, February 9, 2009

  • So far in 2009!

  • Oh yeah, if you notice from the WPIX video, the van driver didn’t even slow down and he seemed to illegally pass the driver of the one car that pulled to the right. That’s NOT safe driving! And that’s no cargo van. It’s a conversion van. There is no way that you don’t notice that you are dragging a body around driving such a vehicle.

    Also why the hell didn’t the one driver that pulled to the right, not block the road to protect the injured man in the street?!?! It looks like he was just going to drive around him and move on! Shades of that incident up in Connecticut where they let a man (who was hit by a car involved in an illegal chase) lay in the street for 2 minutes before anyone even bothered to come to his aid. He also ended up dieing.

    I came upon a pedestrian crash once while driving and I immediately blocked the intersection with my car and directed traffic around the incident to protect the injured person until police arrived. Such action should be required of all drivers who come across such a scene.


In Memoriam

When the book is written on the fight for traffic justice in New York City, an entire chapter might well be devoted to 2012. This was the year when Commissioner Ray Kelly’s NYPD revealed to the City Council that only a handful of officers are assigned to investigate serious traffic crashes. The public learned that, […]