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Running Down Five Children on a Sidewalk Is Legal in New York City

5:11 PM EDT on September 12, 2013

Warning: Graphic video

DNAinfo is reporting that the driver who jumped a curb and hit five kids in Maspeth this morning, an incident captured on video, probably will not be charged.

A surveillance tape shows a group of kids on a Grand Avenue sidewalk when the driver of a Honda SUV runs one of them over, missing the others by inches. Witnesses lifted the SUV off at least one of the victims. One girl reportedly suffered a broken leg and another a broken hip. One boy has a leg injury and another was treated for a swollen arm. The victims were age 12 to 14. From DNAinfo:

Sources said that the 40-year-old driver was going shopping and was trying to pull into a space when he accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake.

He remained on the scene and was not expected to be charged, sources said.

Council Member Elizabeth Crowley defended the driver. “He hit the gas instead of the brake,” said Crowley, as quoted by the Daily News. “This had everything to do with being an accident.”

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of  injury-related death for children in NYC, and an average of five kids are hit by motorists in the city each day. As a council member, Crowley should know that what happened today was not a freak occurrence.

Media reports emphasized that the motorist, whose name has not been released by NYPD, stayed at the scene and was "cooperating" with police. The Daily News downplayed the driver's involvement, shifting blame to the vehicle: "[T]he SUV driver was trying to pull into a parking spot when his vehicle suddenly plowed into the students outside the school. The vehicle crashed into a parking meter and a nearby sign." The Post, to its credit, led its updated story by assigning responsibility to an "out-of-control driver."

"He is not expected to face criminal charges," the Post said, "though it is unclear if he will be ticketed for any driving violations."

Here is a driver caught on video slamming into kids on a sidewalk. Despite clear evidence of negligence, it appears that neither NYPD nor District Attorney Richard Brown considers this a crime -- and possibly not a traffic violation.

As reader BornAgainBicyclist pointed out today, that the victims suffered mere "non life-threatening" injuries seems to have absolved the motorist, at least as far as authorities and the media are concerned. No reports that we've seen have questioned how this driver would face no repercussions for mounting a sidewalk and mowing down five children.

DNAinfo talked to schools chancellor Dennis Walcott, who visited the victims in the hospital. "The kids are kids," Walcott said. "They're resilient."

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