Pietro Palumbo Killed by Driver in Manhattan, No Charges Filed

A pedestrian killed in Kips Bay last week has been identified as 76-year-old Pietro Palumbo.

Palumbo was crossing East 23rd Street near Second Avenue at around 1 a.m. on Friday, May 18, when reports say he was struck by a 1997 Acura driven by a 72-year-old woman. According to DNAinfo, the then-unidentified victim was crossing East 23rd “south to north in the middle block” when he was hit by the westbound motorist.

DNAinfo reported that Palumbo was in a wheelchair, while the Post said he was using a walker after a recent hip surgery. An NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog he had no information on which version of the incident was correct.

A witness told the Post that the impact of the collision sent Palumbo “literally, 20 feet flying into the air.” Said the witness: “He just came down and smashed the windshield and went straight to the ground.” DNAinfo said Palumbo was “discovered lying in the street with severe injuries to his body.” He was pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital.

Despite indications that the unidentified driver was traveling at an excessive speed, NYPD confirmed that “no criminality is suspected.”

This fatal crash occurred in the 13th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Deputy Inspector Ted Berntsen, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 13th Precinct council meetings happen at 6:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month at the 13th Precinct station house, located at 230 East 21st Street. Call the precinct at 212-477-7411 for information.

Palumbo was at least the second vulnerable street user killed in the city since Friday. Last night, 33-year-old Amjad Barakat was fatally struck by a hit-and-run driver in Bay Ridge. As of this writing, no fewer than 43 pedestrians and cyclists have died on city streets in 2012.

  • Anonymous

    I’d like to know what the indications were that the driver was traveling at an excessive speed.

    If it was an eyewitness account, here’s my suspicion: the driver may have been doing 30mph or less, hence the “no criminality” quote from the cops. But to an eyewitness, 30mph at the moment of impact may have seemed like a crazy excessive speed BECAUSE IT IS.

    It is stupid that we officially sanction a speed limit so high in a place so densely packed with pedestrians as ALL OF NEW YORK CITY.

    The default speed limit of 30mph has got to come down.

  • Brad Aaron

    @ddartley:disqus Good point. The indications are that the driver was (a.) going fast enough that she did/could not stop in time to avoid an elderly man using a walker or a wheelchair (as opposed to a “darting child,” whose instantaneous presence in the path of a motorist can never be anticipated), and (b.) the witness report of the impact.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Enrique Penalosa often describes safe pedestrian and cycling infrastructure as places where you’d feel safe sending out “your young daughter or your grandmother.” In Bay Ridge, car-centric neighborhood, it’s not a place that passes the Penalosa test. And wide, fast Second Avenue is scary to cross even for able-bodied adults – even where the bike lanes and bus lanes have made it narrower to cross.
    A question worth considering – Brad, do we know if at the site of the accident there was any of the traffic calming measures that have been applied to adjacent First Avenue
     (i.e. pedestrian refuges, bike lanes, leading pedestrian intervals, countdown clocks, etc.)?
    It’s time for us to consider how many of these awful pedestrian and cyclist deaths are avoidable but for safer conditions at the scene of the crime.

  • Martcur

    Shocking sudden tragedy ! We, that knew and loved him, hope he’ll be in a better place and may he really RIP.