Motorist Havoc: Two Dead, Five Hurt, Kids in Critical Condition, No Charges

A pedestrian and a cyclist are dead after a series of crashes in Brooklyn and the Bronx in which motorists also injured five other people. Three of the victims were teenagers. One crash left two young boys in critical condition. No charges are known to have been filed by NYPD or DAs Charles Hynes and Robert Johnson.

Zuleimi Torres. Photo: ##http://www.webook.com/member/TorresZuly##WEbook##

On Friday afternoon, 16-year-old Zuleimi Torres was one of three people struck by the driver of an SUV on the Grand Concourse near Mt. Eden Parkway. From NY1:

Eyewitnesses said the car was going erratically down Grand Concourse, hit one pedestrian and then kept going and hit the other two pedestrians.

“He didn’t stop, he hit the first person, he did not stop. He just keep going and then we see the second one again got hit. We said, ‘Oh!'” a bystander said.

An off-duty officer arrested the driver as he tried to leave the car, but a breathalyzer test showed that the driver had no blood alcohol content.

Torres suffered a brain injury and died at St. Barnabas Hospital. Her friend, also 16, and the third victim, a 51-year-old woman, were hospitalized in stable condition.

Citing anonymous police sources, the Post reports that the driver “is not suspected of a crime,” and a “medical condition may have contributed” to the crash. “Sources say the driver has a mental condition,” according to News 12. “Investigators say the driver will not face charges.”

In another crash early Sunday, an unidentified cyclist was killed by a livery cab driver in Crown Heights. From the Post:

The unidentified man was peddling [sic] eastbound on Eastern Parkway, between Underhill and Washington avenues, around 1:15 a.m. when he swerved in front of a car that was also traveling east and was struck by the vehicle, cops said.

The driver of the livery cab remained at the scene and no criminality is suspected, cops added.

Within hours, the driver's account of this fatal crash was being repeated by NYPD. Photo: Post

Since the livery driver is the only person alive to talk to police, there is apparently no disputing his version of events. With a headline like “Bicyclist Stuck [sic] and Killed After Swerving in Front of Livery Cab,” the Post certainly isn’t going to do it. Neither, it seems, is NYPD, which within hours was repeating the driver’s story as the official version of the crash.

Note that in these two fatal crashes, police leaked to the media only those details that served to exculpate the driver, blame the dead or injured victims, or both. While this is standard operating procedure for NYPD, the department otherwise guards crash information, even from victims’ families, as a matter of course.

Meanwhile, the Daily News helpfully noted that the victim “was wearing a helmet but not carrying identification.”

At around 9 a.m. Friday, 14-year-old Keiona Vann was hit by a motorist on the Concourse at East 167th Street. From DNAinfo:

“[The girl] flew, she hit the windshield, then she fell on the pavement,” said Juan Tavera, who saw the accident. “She was moving her extremities, but by the time the police and firemen arrived, she wasn’t moving anymore.”

Tavera said the driver seemed to be traveling at normal speed at the time of the accident.

“You know I’m concerned because this is, this Grand Concourse is dangerous,” said a witness to NY1. “The lights don’t take too long to change. They gotta do changes here in the Grand Concourse cause this happens a lot here in 167th Street.”

Vann was hospitalized in critical condition, and “no criminality was suspected,” according to the Post.

Less than an hour before Zuleimi Torres was struck, two boys, age 9 and 11, were hit at Morrison and Westchester Avenues. Both reportedly suffered head injuries. The Post and other outlets reported that both were in critical condition at Jacobi Hospital. According to NBC, “No arrests were made.”

  • Anonymous

    I live in Crown Heights and spend a fair amount of time next door in Prospect Heights where the cab struck the bicyclist. Let me tell you These liverly cabs fly down Eastern Parkway like bats out of hell. Stop lights and speed pints are optional to them. They routinely change lanes without signaling in order to pick up illegal fares. The NYPD is content to let them drive around like maniacs. The short version of my rant is these cabs are a danger to everyone.

  • What the hell is normal speed?

  • Eric McClure

    Hardly anyone obeys the speed limit on Eastern Parkway, least of all at one in the morning. Subpoena the cab’s black box and the driver’s cellphone records.

  • KillMoto

    What did the vehicle black boxes say about the vehicle speeds?

    Oh wait, I forgot we’re not supposed to ask.

  • KillMoto

    What did the vehicle black boxes say about the vehicle speeds?

    Oh wait, I forgot we’re not supposed to ask.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    The vehicle data recorder won’t record anything unless the collision was severe enough to trigger the air bag. They are one-shot, not continuous recorders.

  • JK

    Why doesn’t NYC require continuous recording blackboxes for yellow cabs, livery cabs, black cars, tow trucks and commercial carters? These vehicles are all in heavily regulated industries, and are a huge presence on the streets. How much would this kind of data recording cost? Can’t be all that much since commercial trucking fleets already track this kind of data.

    Could street safety advocates get the insurance industry to help push?

  • Matthijs van Guilder

    so his mental condition lets him off the hook, and to protect his privacy and his rights, no one will be able to stop him from killing again. Some system.

  • Anonymous

    I’m always saddened when a cyclist loses their life but in all seriousness WTF was someone doing riding their bike on Eastern Parkway at 1 o’clock in the morning?

  • Andrew

    Probably getting from point A to point B, much like the passenger in the livery cab (if there was one).

  • Andrew

    If somebody has a mental condition that renders him unable to safely drive a car, why is he allowed to drive a car?

  • Joe R.

    And when I was riding on Liberty Avenue at 1:30 AM last December, would someone have made a similar comment if I had gotten killed by a car?

  • The city speed limit is a maximum of 30 MPH, if conditions warrant.
    NORMAL speed on Eastern Parkway: the MINIMUM speed is 30 MPH, maximum optional.

  • Illegally Parked Tour Bus may have Triggered Eastern Parkway Bike Crash, Caused by Oblivious Livery Cab Driver.

    The crash happened in front of the Brooklyn Museum, and the cyclist was traveling eastbound. There is a damned good reason for riding EP the roadway here; this is the primary bike route east around Prospect Park and the Botanic Gardens. The nearest alternate to riding the roadway is riding the south sidewalk, which would have been empty of pedestrians but illegal. The new EP bike path is on the NORTH mall between the Plaza and Washington Ave, but then the path switches over to the south mall, so it requires crossing EP TWICE; a time delay and a serious safety exposure from turning cars at both the Plaza and at Washington Ave. At 1:30 AM, EP traffic is usually very light, so riding the roadway should offer about the same danger as trying to double cross back and forth to the north mall.

    However, I noticed something strange in the NY1 Video; a tour bus is parked in the right lane in front of the Brooklyn Museum, just west of the crash site. The bus is visible from 11 thru 13 seconds into the video and again at the end at 21-22 seconds. Eastern Parkway is drops from 3 motor lanes at the Plaza to two motor lanes from east of the Library to just west of the Botanic Gardens gate. Curb parking in now allowed the main roadway of EP eastbound taking up one lane (parking was never allowed on the main roadway in the past 55 years, or longer, until the latest reconstruction.) There is no parking allowed between the Gardens gate and Washington Ave, including the entire front of the Museum; the roadway goes back to 3 lanes wide before Washington. But, the last 2 seconds of the NY1 shot at 21 seconds, is taken from behind the bus, and may show a legal parking area against the curb, transitioning into a right turn lane for Washington.

    But even if this curb space is a legal parking space, I don’t think a commercial bus is allowed to park overnight on city streets – though it’s done all the time.

    The distance between the Botanic Gardens gate and the parked bus is about 100 yards – 300 feet. I would expect that the cyclist would move into the right hand lane after the last parked car, and then move left into the center lane – one lane out from the curb, to ride around the parked bus. The photos show the livery cab and the bike in the center lane – the lane just to the left of the parked bus and the crash just to the east of the bus.

    My hypothesis is that the cyclist moved out the right lane to the center lane, to go around the bus, and one of the following occurred:

    1. the cyclist failed to check behind him for oncoming cars before shifting left, the cab was already very close, and the cyclist rode directly into the path of the cab.

    2. the cyclist did check behind, saw the cab some distance back with sufficient time and space to pass the bike, and assumed that the cab would shift over, into the probably empty left lane, to pass the cyclist.

    3. the cab may have been traveling at excessive speed, and the cyclist misjudged how long it would take the cab to come up behind him.

    4. the cab driver may not have turned his headlights on and the cyclist never saw the cab even after looking behind him.

    5. the cab driver saw the cyclist and didn’t give a damn.

    6. the cab driver was oblivious to anything smaller than the bus, didn’t see the cyclist at all, and didn’t give a damn.

    In all these cases, the livery cab driver should have seen the parked bus, and should have seen the bicycle traveling in the right lane approaching the bus. The driver should have been preparing to move left and/or slow down to safely pass the bicyclist.

    Remember, a bus is about 2 to 3 feet wider than a passenger car, forcing
    the cyclist that much further to the left into the motor lane.

    More important than the question of a helmet, (which failed to mitigate the fatal injuries from this crash) is the whether the cyclist/bicycle was equipped with lights and/or reflectors. If the bike had even pedal reflectors, the driver should have been able to see the bike and rider against the dark bus and rather well lit street in this area. The Post photo, taken with a flash, shows a blue bike, but no sign of any reflectors from the angle that the bike fell. It’s not clear what lighting/reflectors were being used.

    My conclusion is that the driver was negligent in failing to observe and recognize a bicycle in front of him in the right lane, along with a parked bus; negligent in not recognizing that the cyclist would need to change lanes into the motor lane to pass the bus; and negligent in failing to leave a safe margin to pass the cyclist while the cyclist was passing the bus.

    Conclusions:

    1. The NYPD have done it again. Another cyclist committed suicide. Confirmed.

    2. Get rid of the curbside parking on the eastbound roadway and turn the space into a buffered one way eastbound bike lane. Do this because of, not despite, the one long block bike path on the north mall, that requires eastbound riders to double cross Eastern Parkway to return to the south side mall beyond Washington Ave.

    3. Definitely get rid of curbside parking in front of the Museum. There is a free drop off loop off the parkway between Museum and Gardens, and therefore absolutely no need for cars or buses to be stopping, much less parking, in front of the Museum. Buses parked at the curb cause safety issues for passing cyclists, and for people and cars crossing the Washington Ave intersection, by blocking sight lines up Eastern Parkway.

    The parking and design of the bike path in this area was a joint effort of DOT and Parks Department. I don’t think it’s one of their better designs and should be closely reviewed and revised to match how cyclists and drivers really use the space.

  • Shojib Ashrafi Na Ashrafi

    Well said! That certainly proved Canada’s stupid foreign policy and the minister shut his wide mouth after hearing all other countries attending the CHOGM. Canada is promoting terrorism to be a close ally to US. This is very wrong and they just want to grab the Tamil votes which are mostly Liberal.

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