NYPD Fails to Charge Driver Who Killed a Child in Red Hook This Morning

Witnesses say a driver hit 14-year-old Nicholas Soto with enough force to throw him away from the street and over a nearby fence. NYPD filed no charges. Image: Google Maps
Witnesses say a driver hit 14-year-old Nicholas Soto with enough force to throw him away from the street and over a nearby fence. NYPD filed no charges. Image: Google Maps

A motorist killed a teenager in Red Hook this morning.

Nicholas Soto, 14, was crossing Lorraine Street at Hicks Street at around 7:00 when the driver of a BMW sedan slammed into him.

From WNBC:

Witnesses said the force of the impact flung the boy up in the air and over a fence.

Millie Mendez said the sound of the boy being hit was so loud she thought two cars had collided. When she realized it was a boy, not a car, that had been hit, she said she couldn’t believe it.

“He was bleeding everywhere,” Mendez said.

Mendez and others told WNBC speeding is a problem in the area. “The cars come like they’re on a thruway,” Mendez said. “They need a light, speed bump, they need something on this corner because this is dangerous right here,” said resident Edward Ulsalston.

Photos from the scene show the BMW with front end damage and a cracked windshield, signs that the victim was thrown onto the hood. Though photos and witness accounts point to driver speed as a factor, police told WNBC that “No criminality is suspected.”

Daily News reporter Rocco Parascandola, meanwhile, cited an unnamed police source who blamed the victim.

A 14-year-old racing to catch a school bus was struck and killed by a car in Brooklyn Monday morning, police said.

Nicholas Soto was rushing across Hicks St. at Lorraine St. just before 7 a.m. when he was struck by a 2004 BMW heading west on Lorraine.

Nicholas, who lived nearby, died a short time later at Methodist Hospital.

The driver remained at the scene and will not likely be charged.

A police source said the teen’s vision may have been partially obstructed by his hoodie.

“It appears to be a tragic accident,” the source said.

Note that while the anonymous source and Parascandola describe Soto as “racing” and “rushing,” with his vision obscured by his own sweatshirt, the only thing said about the driver, reportedly a 28-year-old man from New Jersey, is that he was “heading west” on Lorraine Street. (Multiple reports cite police as saying Soto was crossing Hicks, but a Post photo appears to indicate he was crossing Lorraine at Hicks from north to south.) 

This crash happened on a neighborhood street where kids were boarding a school bus — a situation where anyone with a driver’s license should know to look for children. Why did the driver not slow down? How did he fail to see Soto in broad daylight? Who had the right of way? Such details are crucial to understanding how this crash occurred, yet the Daily News chose to focus exclusively on the actions of the deceased child.

Not to be outdone, the Post reported that the proximate cause of the collision was the victim’s clothing: “A 14-year-old boy was hit by a car and killed when the hooded sweatshirt he was wearing prevented him from seeing the driver as he dashed a Brooklyn street to try and catch a school bus, police sources said.”

Nicholas Soto was at least the third child age 14 and under killed by a NYC motorist in 2014, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog, and at least the 13th such victim since January 2013.

This fatal crash occurred in the 76th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Captain Justin C. Lenz, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 76th Precinct council meetings happen at 7:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month at the precinct, 191 Union Street. Call 718-834-3207 for information.

The City Council district where Nicholas Soto was killed is represented by Carlos Menchaca. To encourage Menchaca to take action to improve street safety in his district and citywide, contact him at 212-788-7372 or @Carlos4Council.

  • katrinanyc

    I’m with you. Even though you appear to be an injury lawyer advertising your services by posting here. I’m sure you’ve been in touch with the Sotos, right?

    Edit: See KillMoto’s comment above. All drivers, for the privilege of driving our streets, should surrender their black box data for objective information in vehicular homocides such as this.

    All New Yorkers need to get behind tough lawyers that bring consequences. Even community service for drivers who kill pedestrians — anything. We currently seem to have nothing. And you are correct: it needs to start with enforcement and it also needs to be in every DMV handbook and exam, and we need signage that everyone can see (which we also do not have – a simple “look for” – children, pedestrian, cyclist, etc.).

    In a DMV exam manual:

    Look for cyclists. Don’t open car doors without checking.

    Slow down around school buses.

    It’s so basic…yet NYC does not bother to educate.

    Granted, the driver in this story is from Jersey. We still have a real problem in NYC with our own drivers, as “Educator” above has illustrated.

  • Joe R.

    Fine, let’s assume for a moment that the driver wasn’t intentionally being reckless or malicious or anything else which might warrant charges of manslaughter. Let’s just assume that the primary thing the driver was doing wrong was driving at an excessive speed for the conditions. That doesn’t even mean the speed limit was being exceeded, only that the speed was excessive given that at this time and location children running across the street are expected. Why can’t we permanently revoke this person’s driver’s license? That’s a much lower bar to jump than filing criminal charges since driving is a privilege, not a right. As such, the state can revoke driving privileges for any reason whatsoever, or even for no reason at all. Why can’t we do that here? Why shouldn’t there be an automatic lifetime license revocation if you kill someone through recklessness, negligence or even just plain incompetence. The latter two are certainly relevant here. Driving at any speed much above 15 mph where you’re highly likely to expect children at least indicates incompetence, if not negligence. If such actions result in a death, this person should never get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle again for the remainder of their natural life.

  • Brian Howald

    Often it is impractical for drivers to yield because they are speeding and/or not paying attention.

  • rachel

    The man is pretty traumatized so please understand it was an accident.

  • Maris

    Rachel – are you saying that we should all move on because the driver is traumatized? What do you say to the family of the child that the driver killed?

    It was a school day. Children are present. In the aftermath of the death, we see the car’s windshield smashed. We see the car’s sideview mirror torn off. We find that the child’s body flew through the air, over a fence. Are we to believe that the driver was driving safely? Are we to accept that others should drive the way that this driver did? Would you be understanding had the driver killed your mother?

    Rachel – this was no accident. Had the driver not been speeding, the child would be alive today. The driver’s actions led directly to the death of a child. The driver should be in police custody awaiting trial for his actions – actions that resulted in the death of a child.

    So, Rachel, please understand, the driver killed a child because he was speeding. This was no accident.

  • Cynthia

    I agree with you Rachel, I understand the kid had past but people come on it was an accident the driver stood in the scene as well trying to help the kid. The kid was rushing out with a hoodie as a witness have seen himself he didn’t look for up coming traffic. You telling me all these people commenting here don’t drive the regular speed limit come on people be for real! The speed limit is 15 are you going to be driving 15mph NO. As for the windshield that was going to happen the kid flew out the driver probably couldn’t stop to avoid it n when it happen he probably breaked n the kid flew it doesn’t matter how slow or fast u were goin someone pops out like that while u driving the person will be hurt. It’s sad what happen to the kid but people need to realize it was an accident!

  • Cynthia

    The kid is a better place then all us. I’m not saying it’s good what had happened but this can happen to anybody!

  • Maris

    “He didn’t look for up coming traffic.”

    How do you know that? I don’t think the now dead child wanted to kill himself. I think that he was smart, raised well and that he did look for oncoming cars before crossing.

    Let’s assume that he gives himself 5 seconds to cross the street safely. A car travelling at 30 MPH goes 44 feet per second, or 220 feet in 5 seconds. Given that a NYC block is about 264 feet long, he would’ve looked up one block, seen the coast clear and crossed the street.

    At 60 MPH, the driver is travelling at 88 feet per second. In 5 seconds he travels 440 feet – over a football field of distance – nearly two city blocks. How far up the street should this child look before crossing safely?

    Your comment is insulting to a dead child, his family and OUR community.

  • Cynthia

    The witness himself said it the kid was RUSHING wasn’t looking at nothing but the bus! Now you tell me if a kid is rushing NOT looking just cross like nothing, what do you call that? Please explain. Your driving at whatever speed your going no matter what someone pops out like that they will eventually get hit. I’m not saying I’m defending the driver but as I recall earlier this can happen to anybody. It could of happened to me u or whoever because NO ONE drives the speed limit especially in NY.

  • Ian Turner

    Maybe if we change the reality of that last sentence, we can prevent this kind of thing in the future, hmm?

  • Maris

    I can explain it simply. The child glanced up the block and didn’t see a car. He then went to cross the street. He didn’t look again as he didn’t expect a car driving at 60 MPH.

    The witness saw the child after the child had already checked to see if it was safe to cross. If the child gave himself 5 seconds to cross the street, the witness had four seconds to see the child before being hit, having missed seeing the child check for traffic.

    The child didn’t just “pop out like that.” At 60 mph, with a 1 second reaction time, a vehicle will travel about 300 feet during braking. That’s more than one city block. I think that the child checked for traffic – a full city block, didn’t see any cars, and chose to cross safely. Because the driver was speeding, the child is dead.

    You are clearly defending the driver. This shouldn’t happen to anybody. It was not the child’s fault.

  • Cynthia

    How do you know if the driver was doing 60mph? All I’m saying it was an accident everyone should be blaming the state it took with this accident “14” accident for them to notice those streets need speed bumps or lights. Why wait for a tragic accident to happen wen they could of had that fixed.

  • Maris

    I come to the estimate of 60 MPH based vehicle damage.

    To keep it short, a researcher named ‘A. Happer’ wrote ‘Comprehensive Analysis Method for
    Vehicle/Pedestrian Collisions’ in 2000. In it, he provides a table that estimates vehicle speed based on damage to the vehicle by the pedestrian’s body.

    The photo in the Daily News shows body damage to the car; dented hood and quarter panel, broken windshield and broken-off side mirror. From my reading of Happer’s analysis, this correlates to an impact speed of about 43 mph. Assuming that the driver braked, he could have easily been doing 60 mph.

    I also note that the child’s body flew over a fence. How fast do you have to go to throw a body 50 feet?

    Finally, I note the sound of the impact of vehicle on child’s body. A witness quoted by News 4 New York “One woman said the noise was so loud she thought two cars had collided.” I’m thinking that an impact with car travelling at 30 mph or less is a pretty good thud. You need to go a lot faster to get to a noise that makes someone think that it was car vs. car.

    This was no accident. The driver was speeding. The child didn’t have a chance.

    I apologize to the community for cold and brutal nature of this discussion. This child, however, was not the victim of an accident.

  • Cynthia

    Listen end of discussion quote of the day it was an “ACCIDENT” !! The damage on the car simple kid flew out driver didn’t have time to babe boy got hit flip hit windshield n flew off. No body knows anything to be saying anything. We going with the News said the driver wasn’t charge for anything the boy was rushing and ran out didn’t not look as the witness said if he did he could of seen the car from far away what is this the kid didn’t see no cars n in a blink of an eye a car pop up! Be for real lady!! Quote “ACCIDENT”

  • Cynthia


  • WoodyinNYC

    Sorry that you lost your friend. When a reckless speeding driver kills someone, the victims include family and friends like you. And of course it is not Nick’s fault.

  • WoodyinNYC

    Ask Cynthia his race. The way she’s defending him, I think they may have a thing going on.

  • WoodyinNYC

    What they mean is, people wearing hoodies are like Trayvon Martin, and they deserve what they get. And if they die, nobody goes to jail.

  • WoodyinNYC

    The studies show: If a person is hit by a car going 20 miles per hour, he will live. If the driver is going 30 mph, the victim might live. If the driver is going 40 mph, the victim is dead.

    From that we can fairly conclude that the driver of the BMW hit the now-dead boy while driving 40 mph or more

  • WoodyinNYC

    When a driver kills somebody, the victims include the family and friends. So sorry for you and all the family and friends of Nick.

  • WoodyinNYC

    Yes, they earn the ugly stereotype every day.

    Just to add, when a driver blares his horn in a residential neighborhood or among a number of pedestrians, he’s got Jersey plates.

  • lop

    ”’it doesn’t matter how slow or fast u were goin someone pops out like that while u driving the person will be hurt. ”’

    It absolutely matters how fast you’re going. If you’re going slow then the person is hurt, and less likely to be hit. If you’re going fast the person is dead.

    ”’The speed limit is 15 are you going to be driving 15mph NO.”’

    Then you’re a criminal and responsible for the death of the person you hit, even if they just darted into the street.

  • WoodyinNYC

    Studies show that if a driver is going 20 mph when he hits his victim, the victim will be injured but rarely killed. When the victim is struck at 30 mph, he might survive. When the driver is going 40 mph, the victim WILL be killed. We’ve read this info here on Streetsblog over and over again.

    Cars that don’t speed don’t kill. Cars that speed kill. If the victim is dead, he was killed by a speeding car.

    So dead-if-hit-by-car-going-40 mph seems like probable cause to me.

  • lop

    Or a cab with NY plates.

  • WoodyinNYC

    Eliminate cars? Not me. A reasonable goal nationwide might be one car per household, achieved by making it possible for one or both spouses to use public transit or bike. One car for non-commuting trips to outlying big box stores or weekend getaways.

    For those of us not into big box stores or even weekend drives, a reasonable set of goals might be that we not be killed by speeding drivers, that we not be honked at outside our homes by braying jackasses from outside the City, that we not be forced to subsidize “free” prying for those who demand to park their cars “free” on public property, that we not pay higher rents to offset the cost of building mandated parking. Well, I know those positions turn away many people.

  • qrt145

    “The studies show: If a person is hit by a car going 20 miles per hour, he will live. If the driver is going 30 mph, the victim might live. If the driver is going 40 mph, the victim is dead.

    From that we can fairly conclude that the driver of the BMW hit the now-dead boy while driving 40 mph or more”

    While there may be other indications that the driver may have been speeding in this particular case, the argument above on its own is fallacious. Sure, the probability of death at 20 mph is much lower, but it’s still much higher than zero (depends on the source, but let’s say about 5%). For the most part, we hear only about the cases where a crash is fatal, so, when we hear about a fatal crash at 20 mph, there could have been about 19 other similar crashes where the victim didn’t die and we just never heard about them. Yet the victim is just as dead.

  • Carmen Vazquez

    Cynthia, your statement that the kid is in a better place than all of us is uncalled for. Had that been your child would he have been in a better place? Insensitive remark.

  • KillMoto

    We **could** know the truth, if only the police would read the car’s black box.

    But we don’t, because we value irresponsibility over the lives of children.

  • KillMoto

    I’d like to live in a culture where a driver is presumed at fault, but can offer evidence (e.g., “here officer, read my black box, it will show I was driving 15mph”) in defense.

    If people can afford the $10k a year investment to own a car, they can certainly afford to pay for a good lawyer to get themselves exonerated in the event of an **actual** accident.

  • KillMoto

    Calling out mis use of the word “accident” is not nit-picking.

    The moment we use that word we are already building a case to not hold the driver accountable. Maybe we should investigate the facts before we assume the cause was an unavoidable ‘act of god’. Maybe the facts, whether from black box, or possibly a home security camera or crash scene reconstruction might indeed show recklessness, negligence or other **preventable** circumstances, either on the part of the victim or the driver.

    If you want a word for this situation, call it an “uninvestigated”, rather than an “accident”.

  • katrinanyc

    One of the witnesses also said the driver was speeding. So, driver is speeding, a pedestrian is running to his school bus. Guess who has the right of way?

  • katrinanyc

    “It could of happened to me u or whoever because NO ONE drives the speed limit especially in NY.”

    And Cynthia is okay with the above occurrence happening regularly, folks. It’s just an accident! Nobody drives the speed limit! People pop out of nowhere! Nobody should have personal responsibility behind the wheel! Let’s just throw our hands up and say, “Feh, who can help it when drivers speed in a school zone during school hours? It’s the people who pop out like that. They’re dangerous!”

  • katrinanyc

    Physics, dear, physics.

  • katrinanyc

    Struck by a high-speed vehicle, eyes bleeding, when he had his WHOLE life ahead of him…yeah, he’s better off than all of us.

    Especially Cynthia, who is certifiably nuts.

  • katrinanyc

    The driver was negligent. Period. And yes, there are punishments for that.

  • Grz17

    Even if it was an accident, the driver is responsible. All children are impulsive. It is a fact of humanity. However a driver knows they need to drive defensively not only with other cars but pedestrians as well. The driver is the adult in this situation , so it is expected that he is more experienced and aware. Therefore, If he drove slower the impact may not have been as severe and the young boy might have had a chance of survival. Neglect can sometimes lead to accidents but it is not an excuse or reason to be liberated of fault.

  • Mindi Schnacker

    Hi my name is Mindi Schnacker and I live in Boise Idaho. My daughter was killer this year on Easter sunday as she crossed the street in a crosswalk. The police are blaiming my little girl. If you know the family of this child could you please get them my information I would love to talk with them. I need support and I would think they too would need support in the loss of a child. This is the worst thing a mother could ever go through but to have people and the police say that your child is at fault makes it so much worse. I am on facebook under Mindi Schnacker.

  • Mindi Schnacker

    Please if you know the family I would like to talk with the mother. My daughter was killed while crossing the street in a crosswalk on 4/20/14. I don’t know how to get through this pain and would love to talk with another mother that is going through the same thing.