NYPD Let Witnesses Leave Scene of Fatal Fort Greene Crash

aileen_mckay_dalton.jpgAileen McKay-Dalton

The NYPD failed to follow up with at least one key witness in its investigation of the crash that killed Aileen McKay-Dalton earlier this month, according to a woman who saw the collision and stayed at the scene.

Witnesses were allowed to leave the scene without being interviewed by police or leaving contact information, said Tara Simoncic, who was driving behind the SUV that struck and killed McKay-Dalton at the intersection of Clinton Avenue and DeKalb Avenue on July 8. Of the three witnesses who remained at the scene, only two are named in the NYPD’s accident report, a copy of which has been obtained by Streetsblog.

NYPD filed no charges against the SUV driver, identified as Joel Loudon Murphy, who was heading north on Clinton when he struck McKay-Dalton, riding west on her Vespa.

Simoncic was driving some distance behind Murphy, she said, but with no cars in between them. "The SUV was going fast through the intersection," she recalled. "I saw the moped entering into the intersection and the SUV hitting the moped."

Simoncic remained at the crash scene with two other witnesses. After being ignored for some time by the police, she said, she went over to the squad car to talk to an officer. She recalled him telling her, "’You can stay or you can go, I’m not going to make you stay.’"

When one of the three witnesses, Hector Maldonado, had to leave around 15 minutes later, Simoncic says that she, not an officer, took down his contact information. Otherwise, she said, the police wouldn’t have had a way to reach him.

A third witness remained at the crash location longer. She was a student, said Simoncic, and had just parked her car to go take an exam, which she skipped to stay at the scene. "She was traumatized," said Simoncic. "We all were. We still are." Simoncic didn’t take down her name and contact information, assuming the police had it.

Only Simoncic and Maldonado are named as witnesses in the police report. The name of a third witness does not appear anywhere in the document.

According to Simoncic, both Maldonado and the third witness told her
they were positive that the SUV driver was speeding and ran a red
light. "They seemed without a doubt," she said. "I asked them each
several times." Maldonado declined to be interviewed for this story.

NYPD may have neglected to interview other witnesses as well. Given that the collision took place at a busy intersection during evening rush hour, said Simoncic, "I have a hard time believing we were the only three people who saw that accident." 

NYPD’s public information office maintains
that there was no criminality in the crash. The department has not returned Streetsblog’s request for an
explanation as to how it reached this determination. Detective Ryan, the Accident Investigation Squad detective assigned to the case, has not returned phone calls.

Though the NYPD has declined to look further into the circumstances of the crash, Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes has opened a separate investigation, the scope of which may include NYPD’s handling of the case. More than 500 people have signed a petition asking NYPD to re-open the investigation.

  • MRN

    More multi-article pieces about Pretty White Women in Danger. We had three or four for that filmmaker who was killed in UWS awhile back, who’s face was also plastered over this blog multiple times. Where’s the pic of (and associated ‘vigil’ for) Mr. Rivera, the gentleman crushed by a garbage truck in Bushwick recently?

  • MRN, Although your point is well taken about the intersection of social justice and traffic justice, I don’t believe that Streetsblog organized the vigil, they just covered it as they do far too many others.

    Perhaps you could organize a vigil for Mr Rivera, and give Streetsblog a chance to cover it?

  • MRN — So a witness comes forward who says the NYPD did a lackluster job of collecting information related to a fatal crash, the accident report backs up her story, and that’s your response?

    Streetsblog pursues this type of information whenever we can, and in this instance we were able to obtain it. That’s what sets this case apart.

    If you’re referring to the crash that killed TJ Campbell, the police could not even properly identify him when we asked them for information. Save your scorn for NYPD, which has repeatedly failed to make available reports from crash investigations, even after clearing motorists of wrongdoing.

  • P

    Inflammatory comment not supported by facts = TROLL

  • kaja

    Yeah Ben, you got trolled good there. I hope your blood pressure remained low while you were writing that, because all the dude was after was lowering your lifespan by a few minutes with stress.

  • kaja

    By the way I can’t say enough lovely things about Streetsblog’s journalism regarding these negligent homicides and the NYPD’s failure to care. You guys are toeing the line, “speaking truth to power” (though it doesn’t care to listen), and, if the tide ever turns, will be seen historically as the foot in the door.

    I’d mix more metaphors at you, but you get the point.

    Just expect the trolls. This site’s on the internet, after all. I myself will stick to trolling other commenters, as opposed to the authors on the masthead; hope that’s ok.

  • kevin

    Are all of you trying to say that the deaths of young, attractive white women don’t often turn into small media events to a far greater degree than – oh, say – the deaths of young men of color?

    I would not accuse this site of this sort of media bias but in my opinion it is widespread. To simply brush off MNR’s (accurate) observation as “trolling” is lazy.

    The problem is not the response and the coverage of McKay-Dalton but the lack of response and coverage of so many other victims. It would not take me (or you) long to dig up a long list of victims that do not fit into the young, attractive and white categories that SB has covered in depth, trying to bring justice to all victims of traffic violence. But it would be a far better response than simply yelling “troll” and patting each other on the back.

  • MRN

    My point is not any particular outrage over any particular death – as the ‘Weekly Carnage’ indicates, there are plenty to choose from. ‘kevin’ def. has the best response here.

  • While not in any way questioning the newsworthiness (and horror) of this tragedy, I think the original poster has pointed out a subtle media bias worth noticing. It also shows itself in other ways–for example, one can get the impression from bicycle advocacy materials that the main reason cities should build protected lanes is so that pretty fashionistas can ride around chic downtown neighborhoods in long flowing dresses on expensive imported Dutch bikes. Meanwhile, the immigrant delivery men for whom riding a bike is a livelihood (and who probably ride their bikes far more than just about any other bicycle commuting class) are either beneath notice or when noticed, take the rap for poor cyclist behavior.

    This attitude was most blatantly summed up for me at a recent bicycle event, where a pretty fashionista said to me with some disdain, “Well, those delivery men aren’t really bicyclists. They just ride bicycles because have to.”


  • Com’on already we all know pretty works better . (man or woman)
    call me cynic but I want the prettiest victim if it gets us traffic justice tomorrow…. And before you react remember this will save us many many lives and injuries.

  • Case in point.

    Maybe it’s me, but in my mind, the story here is more about the failure to file any charges against the driver than it is about the identity of the victim. And I don’t mean that in any way to minimize the tragedy, of Ms. McKay-Dalton’s death, or Mr. Rivera’s death, or anyone else’s.

    The SUV- or garbage-truck-driving Grim Reaper is color-blind.

  • P

    “I would not accuse this site of this sort of media bias but in my opinion it is widespread.”

    Kevin, That’s exactly what MMR did and it’s simply a false accusation. In fact, he went beyond that when he accused Streetsblog of bias on the grounds that this woman had a vigil attended by hundreds of people while other victims have not. Tell me what Ben Fried was supposed to do about that.

  • kevin

    @ P.
    Yeah, I disagree with MRN’s accusation of bias on Streetsblog’s part, but not the accusation of a wider bias in media coverage.
    I also do not take issue with Ben Fried’s article or his response.

    But, the disproportionate media attention that is indicative of a higher value placed on attractive, white, affluent lives then of that placed on poor, brown or ugly lives is a real issue and one that is worthy of discussion. These biases have an impact on this sort of advocacy, which Urbanis expanded upon nicely. I thought the accurate portion of the MRN’s comment could serve as a useful jumping off point for that discussion – rather than simply calling him a troll.

  • MRN:
    I’m sympathetic to your original point, but I’d take it to CNN, Fox, and MSNBC, not Streetsblog. Look at how Streetsblog has covered the Jake McDonaugh case, for example, and I think you’ll see the treatment is pretty similar.

  • Mike

    I disagree that there is a “higher value placed on attractive, white, affluent lives” — isn’t it possible that affluent people have a more affluent network of friends and family who are more able to bring these issues to the foreground through media and networking?

    I think this is less a race issue than a class issue. It’s easier for media outlets to cover something when they have easy access to information, and that’s more likely to happen with well-off groups than marginalized groups.


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