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Curb Jumping

Manhattan DA Cy Vance Investigating Midtown Curb-Jump Crash

1:16 PM EDT on August 21, 2013

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance's office is investigating Tuesday's Midtown curb-jump crash, which injured three people, including a woman who lost part of her leg.

"The midtown crash has been under investigation by the Vehicular Crimes Unit, including one of the Office’s most senior prosecutors, since it happened yesterday," wrote Vance spokesperson Erin Duggan in an email to Streetsblog. "The investigation is ongoing."

Reports identified the driver as Mohammad Himon, a cabbie who the Daily News says had three moving violations in 2011, including citations for speeding and running a red light, resulting in nine points on his license. Late Tuesday morning, according to multiple accounts, Himon rammed a cyclist with his cab, then drove on the sidewalk in front of 1251 Sixth Avenue, at 49th Street, with the cyclist on the hood before striking Sian Green, a British tourist.

FDNY said two victims were transported from the scene. Part of Green's left leg was severed below the knee. The cyclist was photographed after the crash, standing with a bandaged knee.

The Post cited unnamed "law-enforcement sources" who said Himon "would not be criminally charged." The Daily News reported today that Himon was issued a summons for "unauthorized use," which the paper described as "an administrative violation for not submitting a form notifying the Taxi and Limousine Commission that he would be driving that particular cab."

Paul White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, says the driver should lose his hack license. "This kind of abhorrent behavior must not be tolerated," White said in a written statement, "and I call on [Taxi and Limousine Commission] Commissioner [David] Yassky to immediately revoke the driver's ability to operate a cab in New York City."

After a cab driver killed a senior in the West Village last year, the TLC told Streetsblog that unless a cabbie faces criminal charges, or a consumer files a complaint, the agency has no lawful basis for action against a driver who harms a pedestrian. Potential sanctions include the suspension of a driver’s TLC license, and additional actions can be taken based on the outcome of a case.

"If it is true that the driver was aiming at the cyclist when he accelerated, and continued accelerating after the cyclist was up on the hood, it does not matter that the cyclist was not seriously injured, while Ms. Green was," says attorney Steve Vaccaro. "Aiming a motor vehicle at a person on a bicycle and deliberately accelerating should support a charge that the driver 'recklessly engaged in conduct that creates a grave risk of death to another person (the cyclist) and thereby cause[d] serious physical injury to another person (Ms. Green),' i.e., First Degree Assault, a class B felony."

"There are certainly other, lesser charges that could be pursued -- and, in the end, might reasonably be plea-bargained down to -- but based on the facts known now, if the DA's office announces as the highest charge in the first instance anything less than First Degree Assault, it is in my opinion failing in its mission to enforce the laws."

Of course, it should go without saying that a traffic crash that causes serious injury would be investigated by the borough district attorney. But the vast majority of injury crashes in NYC are not even investigated by police. Unlike similar instances when a New York City driver has mounted a curb and run bystanders over -- crashes that often resulted in death, but were not prosecuted -- yesterday's incident has drawn national and international attention. This is perhaps because celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz was one of the first to attend to Green, who was visiting the city from outside the U.S.

"Tourists no really longer fear getting mugged in NYC," tweeted "Traffic" author Tom Vanderbilt. "They have every right to fear going out for a walk."

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