Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In

Below is a statement from Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, issued last week after James Lomma was cleared of manslaughter for the deaths of two workers in a 2008 crane collapse:

"Although we are disappointed with the Judge’s verdict, each case we have brought in this area has put increased scrutiny on the construction industry as a whole, and has had a cascading effect on safety practices. Construction companies must do everything in their power to protect the safety of workers and the thousands of New Yorkers who live near or walk by a construction site every day. The tragic deaths of two young men in this case showed the serious and fatal consequences that can result when profit is put ahead of safety."

You don't see press releases like this pertaining to pedestrian or cyclist fatalities, in part because prosecutors are notoriously timid when it comes to pursuing vehicular crimes.

As of this writing, 66 people are known to have died on city streets and highways in 2012. Of those, 32 were pedestrians and cyclists killed by drivers on surface streets. Citywide, only four drivers are known to have been charged for taking a life, and at least two of those drivers were also charged with DWI. The last few years have seen hit-and-run and unlicensed killers get off with slaps on the wrist, while district attorneys have failed to adhere even to the lenient "rule of two" standard.

The problem is not limited to the city. Between 1994 and 2008, there were just 29 indictments for criminally negligent homicide -- the only charge that applies to either a vehicular assault or homicide that does not require the presence of alcohol or drugs -- in all of New York State, according to Transportation Alternatives. During that period, about 10,000 people died on state roadways.

Said attorney Steve Vaccaro in our April review of Vance's record on vehicular crime: “I think prosecutors want to have a very high conviction rate, and that’s important to them. But it’s not so important that they should be afraid of taking cases that push the envelope a little bit.”

Until that happens, it's not hard to imagine what it might be like when, win or lose, prosecutors have the fortitude to pursue cases of vehicular violence as doggedly as other acts of negligence:

"Although we are disappointed with the Judge’s verdict, each case we have brought in this area has put increased scrutiny on the construction industry dangers of reckless driving as a whole, and has had a cascading effect on safety practices. Construction companies Motorists must do everything in their power to protect the safety of workers the public and the thousands millions of New Yorkers who live near or walk by a construction site walk, bike and drive the streets every day. The tragic deaths of two young men in this case showed the serious and fatal consequences that can result when profit motorist convenience is put ahead of safety."

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Tuesday’s Headlines: Valley of Political Death Edition

Did you see the new poll showing congestion pricing is really unpopular? Ignore it! Good times are coming. Plus other news in today's headlines.

April 23, 2024

Open Streets Groups Warn of Extra Red Tape to Run Events

Two weeks notice for hopscotch or a yoga class?

April 23, 2024

Monday’s Headlines: A Federal Case over Parking Edition

We're flicking our bicycle bell over a big scoop last week that no one picked up on...yet. Plus other news.

April 22, 2024

Hochul, Legislators Reach Toll Evasion Crackdown Deal

Higher fines for covering a plate and for not paying tolls are part of the budget deal inked on Saturday.

April 22, 2024

Behind the Scenes: How Gov. Hochul Got ‘Sammy’s Law’ Over the Finish Line

Opponents didn't want to put their name on a no vote for the life-saving measure.

April 22, 2024
See all posts