Eyes on the Street: Crash Aftermath on First Avenue [Updated]


A reader sent in this picture of the scene at First Avenue and 4th Street in Manhattan this morning. I won’t speculate too much about what sheared the roof off this minivan or what happened to the people involved. Perhaps the car was pried open deliberately to rescue those inside. Details are scarce: An investigation is underway, according to the Gothamist newsmap, and we have a request in with NYPD for more information.

Update: A police spokesman tells Gothamist that a 55-year-old woman was killed after this minivan collided with a delivery van. No one else was injured, apparently, and no one has been charged. We’ve also received an unconfirmed report that this was a T-bone collision in which the minivan ran the light.

  • A narrower First Avenue thanks to future BRT will likely help prevent stuff like this.

    I’m hoping that BRT on this stretch of 1st Ave. will widen the sidewalks, which are, especially on the east side of the Ave., outrageously narrow (see especially between ~St. Marks Pl. and 14th).

    A shockingly large number of restaurants and other businesses on that stretch have closed. More room for pedestrians would probably boost the businesses still there, and maybe make room for sidewalk cafes for the (remaining!) restaurants. And there’s not a lot of car traffic, no one can claim it would do any harm.

    Check it out for yourself some time. There’s little car traffic, yet the sidewalks are TINY. Constant ped conflict on weekend days.

  • Conrad

    I cycled past this morning. First Avenue completely locked down to traffic around 9:20. Not pictured is the cargo van in the middle of the intersection to the left of the cop. (It was in much better shape, although it was spun around and facing south on First Ave — the wrong direction.) Also not visible from this image are the baby seats in the minivan. The roof did, in fact, seem to be cut off. It’s on the sidewalk behind the minivan. There was speculation about the survivors, but no one seemed to know anything concrete. I heard a teenage girl with her friends exclaim, “I’m gettin a picture of this and puttin it on Facebook!” Which is kind of nauseating.

  • Given the shape that wreck is in, it is patently clear that the vehicles involved were not within the 30 MPH limit.

  • NattyB

    I was coming down 2nd Ave this morning around 9:20, and noticed, what looked like a ton of police blocking the streets that were heading towards 1st Ave. Now I know why. Shame someone died, but yah, how the hell does a van get messed up that badly, it’s not like the cars can get that fast on 1st ave around there that time of the morning.

  • Brooklyn


    Unfortunately, yes they can, since for most drivers the green light at Allen & Houston is the start to a drag race up first Avenue. The lights are timed to 30mph and since most traffic starts at Houston, there’s very litte to prevent northbound traffic from rolling heavily up the subsequent green lights.

    I wonder if the woman killed was the driver of the minivan or a pedestrian, since both vehicles were hurled by the impact. I suspect the other vehicle is a commercial van, dirt-and-graffiti-covered, maybe a tiny cargo window, unstably outfitted with heavy-duty cargo struts; a barely-controllable vehicle at idle and an ucontrollable battering ram at speed.

  • John

    I heard this accident at 6:30 am this morning from my apartment nearby. Heard screeching breaks followed by the crash – which was very loud, and definitely a fast impact crash. The roof was cut off by rescue workers (I watched them do it in minutes). Within a half hour all rescue crews/ambulances were gone – NYPD remained for investigation. First Ave was closed all the way down to Houston.

    There are tire marks on First Ave from the red minivan, which appeared to swerve right before hitting (being hit by) the delivery van. It appeared to be near the middle of First Ave.

    Sidewalks on this stretch of First Ave are fairly wide (on the east side) because of the
    Co-Ops there, but I agree in general, they are too narrow elsewhere.

  • John’s remark about sidewalks around there does clarify mine; I should be more specific.

    There are *some* wide sidewalks around there, but only where they’re needed least:

    Below 6th St. on the East side of the Ave., the sidewalks are very wide. And he’s right, there are big apt. buildings there. But there’s nothing BUT those apt. buildings, so those wide sidewalks are never crowded!

    But across the Ave. from those big apt. buildings, and above 6th St. on both sides of the Ave., there are lots of little businesses that generate lots of pedestrian traffic, and those sidewalks are woefully too narrow and underserve the big volume of peds, all the way up to 14th St. (Not that I’d oppose widening them above 14th St. too!)

    (Anyway, this is where my wife and I live, so we grumble about it every time we’re walking around there.)

  • blargo

    people tend to barrel down e4t st.

  • make the speed limit for all vehicles in the city 20mph.

  • Bill Stepp

    Within 20 minutes of the crash there were three–count ’em–news (WABC, or so I understand) helicopters above the scene, two of which were there only a couple minutes. The third was there about half an hour.
    They are incredibly, irksomely noisy, and have to be banned. Weren’t helicopers above NYC banned in 1983 after one went down near the Hudson, killing a reporter? Surely getting the story the old-fashioned way, on the ground is more productive and a whole lot less expensive. And zero noise!

  • JM Palacios

    Bill, they need to get reporters on bicycles, as it’s been proven that fast cycling in a city will get you there sooner than a helicopter. 🙂

  • > make the speed limit for all vehicles in the city 20mph.

    Haha, yeah, real good. One dude’s doing fifty in a thirty, wrecks his car, kills a person; let’s fix it by lowering the limit to twenty! That’ll show ’em!

    BicyclesOnly is as usual correct; that is a >30mph crash if I ever saw one. Doubly evident because the antagonist blew a red; a side effect of extremely high speeds is the yellow light timings don’t work for you, you can’t stop on a yellow, you’re _going_ to blow a red if the light changes at the “wrong” moment.

  • On the subject of blowing reds, a friend from DC commented while visiting lately that New York light timings allow for two beats between (say) an avenue going red, and the cross-traffic going green.

    This allows people who clipped the yellow (entirely legal and reasonable) to clear. Downside: It assures people who are planning on blowing a red that they’ve got “two extra seconds” to do it in.

    In DC, the red and the opposing green occur simultaneously, and so (I’m told) there are all manner of full-speed T-bones. On the balance, I prefer our timings.

    This is part of the reason I’m in favor of red light cameras.


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