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2 Dead in 3 Days: NYPD Must Slow Drivers to Stem Atlantic Avenue Carnage

Update: WNYC reports that the pedestrian killed at Atlantic Avenue and 85th Street has been identified as William Guevara-Delgado, 26, of Woodhaven.

Two pedestrians have been killed by motorists on Atlantic Avenue in the last week. Both crashes were outside the new 25 mph zone on Atlantic, and both occurred in a precinct that tickets one driver for speeding every two days.

Oscar Pauzhi. Photo via Times Ledger
Oscar Pauzhi. Photo via Times Ledger
Oscar Pauzhi. Photo via Times Ledger

On Wednesday, April 23, an unidentified man was hit by the driver of a box truck at Atlantic and 85th Street at around 3:40 in the afternoon. According to NYPD, the 53-year-old driver was traveling westbound on Atlantic and the victim was crossing north to south. The victim was wearing jeans only, NYPD told Streetsblog, and was not carrying identification. Police have not yet determined his identity. The Collision Investigation Squad was summoned to the scene and the investigation is ongoing, NYPD said. The department's public information office did not have details on driver speed or who had the right of way.

On Saturday night, Oscar Pauzhi, 54, was fatally struck by the driver of a Hyundai sedan at Atlantic at 107th Street. The Times Ledger reports:

The driver remained at the scene and was not charged with any wrongdoing, police said. No criminality was suspected, but the NYPD said the incident was still under investigation.

Pauzhi, who was a construction worker, immigrated from Ecuador to the U.S. in 1985 to find work, relatives said.

Family remembered Pauzhi as a hardworking and generous man who did not have time for hobbies as he was often laboring.

“He was really friendly and funny,” said Jamie Minchala, Pauzhi’s niece. “He always cared about us a lot.”

Reports say Pauzhi walked into the driver's path, but though reckless motorists make Atlantic Avenue one of the most dangerous streets in the city to walk or bike, no accounts that we've seen question how the driver failed to see or avoid striking the victim. However, WNYC spoke with a local who said motorists terrorize pedestrians in the area where Pauzhi was killed. "When I cross Atlantic Avenue I make the sign of the cross and pray that I get to the other side," said Jonathan Kazzier. "A lot of people respect Atlantic Avenue enough not to jaywalk."

"Every night I wake up to speeding cars, motorcycles," Kazzier said. "I mean they run rapid. And there's no police. I don't know what's going on. Maybe they're taking care of other business."

Motorists have killed at least seven pedestrians in the 102nd Precinct, where both of the past week's fatalities occurred, since January 2013, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. As of the end of March, precinct officers had issued 47 speeding tickets in 2014. That's an average of about one ticket every other day -- roughly the same rate as last year, when the precinct summonsed just 185 drivers for speeding. NYPD data show that the 102nd is among the precincts that as of February were ticketing more drivers for dangerous violations since the launch of Vision Zero, but speeding enforcement has remained flat.

The 20-block stretch where these crashes occurred is east of the Atlantic Avenue "arterial slow zone," where speed limits will be lowered from 30 to 25 miles per hour from Furman Street in Brooklyn Heights to 76th Street in Woodhaven. All of Atlantic needs a design overhaul, but in the meantime NYPD will have to do a much better job enforcing the speed limit, inside and outside the 25 mph zone, to reduce injuries and deaths.

The crashes that killed Oscar Pauzhi and the as-yet-unidentified victim occurred in City Council districts represented by Ruben Wills and Eric Ulrich, respectively.

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