East Harlem Doctor: “Trucks This Size Shouldn’t Be on Residential Streets”

Melanie Canon, a doctor based in East Harlem, was the first person to aid 6-year-old Amar Diarrassouba after he has fatally struck by a tractor-trailer driver Thursday morning. The New York Times’ City Room blog published her wrenching account today.

The driver who killed Amar Diarrassouba was operating an oversized truck on a street that is not a designated truck route. Photo: 1010 WINS via ##http://gothamist.com/2013/02/28/6-year-old_boy_killed_killed_by_tra.php##Gothamist##

Canon raises the question that the city’s tabloid press has been too fixated on an absent crossing guard to bother with: What are big rigs doing on city streets where children walk every day?

People often ask me how I keep calm in such dreadful situations, how I keep thoughts of my own child and her safety from clouding my mind. For me, the anger and sorrow come later, as I reflect on the statistics that tell us that accidents like this are preventable.

We now know that Amar was hit by a tractor-trailer turning from congested, narrow 117th Street onto First Avenue. The driver of that huge truck said he hadn’t seen the boy, couldn’t see him, from the high perch of his mammoth truck. He didn’t hear the sickening thud, either.

This is where I come back to my training – not my medical training, but my training as a mother and community activist — where my sorrow and anger will drive me to act, to join my community in pushing for change.

Trucks this size shouldn’t be on residential streets, especially as kids are walking to and from school. ?In this country, cars and trucks kill more children than guns do. We can do better, for Amar and for all of us.

  • Daniel Winks

    ~3,560,000 deaths and counting (just in the USA).  Why do we even allow motor vehicles in cities at all?  Any vehicle with a gross weight of over 2,000lbs empty should require special permit for purchase and anything above 12,000lbs should be forbidden on any city street without police escort (for cases of large projects, etc).  An added benefit of requiring smaller delivery trucks to pick up local deliveries at a depot (since larger ones can’t enter the city) is suddenly it makes NO SENSE to even use tractor-trailers at all.  Just ship everything via rail to the depots like we did for over 100 years, then offload to smaller, local delivery vehicles.  It made sense, it still makes sense now.  Having multi-ton vehicles on every street in the city is madness.

  • Anonymous

    Obviously, that’s an moving and intense testament from Melanie Canon.
    But she’s a bike commuter. Having now admitted that, she’ll never be taken seriously as a person representing a rational point of view. “She’s one of those crazed bikers”–and boom, she’s dismissed.

  • Mark Walker

    How can the NYPD (assuming it had the will) enforce limits on massive tractor-trailers which clearly don’t belong on city streets? Automated tracking is one potential answer. Cameras should log the movement of these deadly objects. Automated ticketing would be a logical next step. Likely to happen? Maybe not, but what are the alternatives?

  • amber rose

    This is an ongoing problem since the mall opened.  the entrance/exist from the mall for trucks is on 117th. but instead of the drivers making the left on pleasant ave to take 116 street they continue on 117th to catch first avenue.  the mall is part of the problem.