The Negligent Driver’s Best Defense: “I Didn’t See Him”

The driver who dragged Milo Montivilla down Broadway in the Bronx says he never saw him. Photo: Daily News

A 57-year-old Bronx man was struck and killed by a school bus driver on Tuesday.

According to reports, at around 6:00 a.m. Milo Montivilla was crossing with the light at Broadway and Mosholu Avenue in North Riverdale when the bus driver, turning right, ran him over. The Daily News interviewed a witness at the scene:

“He was walking to catch his bus and the [school] bus just hit him and dragged him down the street,” said the witness, who declined to give her name.

“He was under it for a good 10 minutes. I couldn’t believe it.”

The witness said the bus operator did not appear to have seen the pedestrian and continued driving.

“Everybody was screaming, ‘You hit someone! You hit someone!’ Everyone bum-rushed the street,” she said.

“That’s when he stopped and got out. Everyone was on their phones calling the cops.”

The driver was too distressed to talk at the scene but could be overheard telling a supervisor on the phone: “I didn’t see him. It was too dark.”

The driver’s identity was not released. He was not charged.

“I didn’t seem him/her” are the magic words for the motorist who pulverizes another person, even if the victim is breaking no laws, is directly in front of the vehicle when hit, and is dragged down the street until passersby intervene. The driver’s speed, the possibility that he was distracted in some way — these factors seemingly become irrelevant to police and prosecutors when presented with the invisible pedestrian or cyclist defense, despite state laws enacted to protect vulnerable street users from everyday driver negligence.

The crash that killed Milo Montivilla occurred in the 50th Precinct. The commanding officer there is Captain Kevin J. Burke. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Captain Burke or other precinct higher-ups, drop in on the next community council meeting. The 50th Precinct council meets the second Thursday of every month at the station house, located at 3450 Kingsbridge Avenue, at 7:30 p.m. Be sure to call ahead (718-543-5978) to confirm meeting times and dates.

  • Media Maven

    Sorry I shot that guy with my handgun. I didn’t see him.

  • Guest

    Either you are missing a point that could make your article a LOT more compelling or you are unaware of how traffic lights work.

  • Bill

    What seems quite clear is that there is an accepted take for granted that issues of negligence in tragic matters will only be addressed as civil issues and not as potential criminal issues. 

  • Bill

    Whoops my spell checker substituted tragic for traffic in the last post – hmmmm interesting typo

  • moocow

    The NYPD will let you get away with killing someone then claiming you didn’t see them, but claiming you didn’t see the stop sign you ran in Prospect Park still gets you a ticket.
    Now that’s quality enforcement.

  • Brad Aaron

    @cac92a6de4c00d1e232555a4a3a4cbbb:disqus   By all means, enlighten me.

  • I was run down by a motorist Monday. I was cycling in the middle of the lane, for 200+ yards there was nothing between me and him but open road. He decided to change lanes and checked to see if there was anything in the lane he was moving into – without taking note of the fact that there was something in front of him in the lane he was proceeding in at 35 MPH. Boom. “I didn’t see you”. – “The motorist was not cited”

  • Andrew

    Just yesterday, I was crossing Atlantic Avenue with the light.  Just before I reached the last lane, a car sped past me and made a right turn.

    I ran up to the car (stopped for a red light – or, perhaps more to the point, stopped behind other cars that were stopped for the red light) and told the driver that he ran a red light.  He shrugged.  I pointed out that he very nearly hit me.  He shrugged.

  • itsnotsafe

    this is just horrible.  having been hit myself by a city bus while skating in a bike lane, luckily it was just the side view mirror, I sympathize with the victims.  I’ve lost several friends who were killed on their bike in Brooklyn and it never gets easier to deal with.  I’ve started driving a car this past year after four years on either a bike or a board.  What I can tell you is that I will never bike or skate in this city through traffic again.  I never realized how much danger I was in until I got behind the wheel. As a driver I almost hit someone every single day.  And I’m a good driver, 12 years driving and no tickets or accidents.  Sometimes there are only inches to pass someone.  I’m not talking about the dick move pass I’m talking about a legitimate moment where a car shares space with a biker.  There is just not enough room for both on the road.  Also I will say that it is a horrible feeling driving into oncoming traffic to avoid a cyclist or a skater.  It’s similar to the feeling I got when on a bike and being passed by a truck or a car.  

  • carma

    how can you claim to be a good driver and almost hit someone everyday? hmmm..

    ive been driving for 17 years, and i can only recall once when i almost hit someone.  i was driving down a local street in brooklyn when a roughly 4 year old child literally darted mid street.  i braked in time due to i think quick reflexes.  then i saw the mother yell at me AND their child.  i believe i was going no more than 20-25 mph.

    and folks, lets just say that i did hit the child,  and i did claim “i didnt see him”, are you still going to automatically label me a criminal?  especially if 1.  i am paying full attention to the road.  2.  someone darts across mid street

    as much as i believe that a lot of times, drivers can do better in due diligence, sometimes accidents really are just that.  and drivers shouldnt be looked as criminal de-facto.

  • Anonymous

    I was hit by a car while crossing in a cross walk. The driver told me “I didn’t see you” as if it was some sort of consolation that it wasn’t malicious, just negligent. Right, you didn’t see me because you didn’t stop where you are required by law to stop and you neglected to look.

  • Anonymous

    Given that @dcd88aef9c450531280f2ebea41773ee:disqus has never actually hit anyone, maybe (s)he is a good driver, and is just overly sensitive and thinks (s)he “almost hit someone” when in fact there was plenty of room to spare. Just like people who claim that they are “almost hit” by cyclists several times a day but never are actually hit. Maybe they consider that a cyclist passing within 10 yards almost hit them?

    I remember feeling that I “almost hit” a pedestrian a couple of times in my driving years. The first time, I would have blamed myself because I was making a left turn too fast without looking properly (I didn’t have a lot of city driving experience back then…). The second time, I would have felt it was the pedestrian’s fault for darting into the street in the middle of the block from behind a double-parked van. I don’t think I was going more than 25 mph either.

    Each crash is different, but the ones that are publicized in this blog often suggest the driver’s fault, because the pedestrian was usually at a crosswalk or the driver was turning, meaning that the pedestrian had the right or way and/or the driver ran the light. Remember that for every crash publicized here there are several that we don’t hear much about.

  • JamesR

    I used to live on that stretch of Broadway in Riverdale. Atrocious driving is the norm around there and it’s a damned dangerous road from Marble Hill all the way to the city line. A woman was struck and killed in front of my old building last year and cars will routinely speed 50mph on Broadway. I don’t know if this bus driver was speeding, but I do know that the 50th precinct simply does not do traffic enforcement.

  • Joe R.

    @dcd88aef9c450531280f2ebea41773ee:disqus I’ve been cycling for over 33 years and only “almost hit” a pedestrian once.  Not even my fault.  I was on Union Turnpike eastbound in September 2010, in the traffic lane, right behind a car, on the downgrade right after Utopia Parkway, going the same speed as motor traffic (I estimate 32-33 mph but conditions were too busy to actually check my speedometer).  A woman suddenly jaywalks out from between two parked cars.  The line of sight was partially obscured by a double parked truck, so I really couldn’t have seen her until she was in the street.  I managed to jerk the bike to right, and passed right behind her, probably missing her by a few inches.  The only thing I could have done differently in theory would be to take the left lane when I saw my line of sight was blocked by the double-parked truck.  In fact, I normally would do that in this circumstance, but I couldn’t do it that day on account of heavy traffic.  Moreover, with a line of fast-moving cars right in front of me, the last thing I would have expected was a pedestrian darting out.  I’m not sure if there were any cars behind me.  Maybe there weren’t, and the woman assumed after the car in front of me passed it would be safe to cross.  I don’t see how she couldn’t have seen me.  It was night, I had my headlight, which is pretty bright, on.  She may have been in the mindset of only looking for pairs of headlights.  Also, most pedestrians grossly underestimate the speed of a fast-moving bicycle.
    In any case, that was the only close call I’ve ever had.  I’m willing to cut you some slack because visibility in a motor vehicle is poor compared to a bike, but if you “almost hit someone every day”, either your definition of “almost” is too liberal, or you’re simply not anticipating circumstances enough.

  • bob

    I think if everybody had to pass a bike test to get a car drivers license, there would be a lot less cagers on the road.