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Chin Calls for Safety Fixes After Driver Injures Three Women on South Street

2:05 PM EDT on August 29, 2014

South Street at Rutgers Slip, before a traffic signal and crosswalks were installed last year. Photo: Google Maps

Update: One of the pedestrians in this crash died from her injuries. She was identified by the Lo-Down as 82-year-old Shu Fan Huang.

A driver seriously injured three women in the crosswalk at South Street at Rutgers Slip in Manhattan yesterday, and one of the victims is facing life-threatening injuries. In response, Council Member Margaret Chin called on DOT to study pedestrian safety along this stretch of South Street, where many residents of Chinatown and the Lower East Side cross beneath the FDR Drive to access the East River Esplanade.

DOT says it is conducting a safety review of the intersection, where it installed a traffic light and crosswalks last year. Meanwhile, NYPD says the women were crossing against the signal and that it does not suspect "any criminality" by the driver.

Yesterday at around 6:50 a.m., the three women were in the crosswalk at Rutgers Slip when a 34-year-old woman driving a Volvo northbound on South Street struck them. Two of the victims, age 60 and 67, were seriously injured, while a third, whom NYPD said is in her 70s, sustained life-threatening injuries. All three were taken to Bellevue Hospital.

It's not known if the driver was distracted when she struck the three women in the road. She is not facing any charges and did not receive a summons for any traffic violations. The Collision Investigation Squad is investigating. "It appeared the driver had the light," NYPD's press office said today. "Nothing here to indicate any criminality."

DOT installed a traffic signal at the intersection last year and adjusted the pedestrian phase early this year in response to a request from Speaker Sheldon Silver. The agency said it did not receive requests about the intersection between then and yesterday's crash.

Chin called on DOT to review the intersection and other pedestrian access points to the Esplanade, which was recently renovated. Her office said she reached out to DOT Lower Manhattan Borough Commissioner Luis Sanchez yesterday about improving safety along South Street.

Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said the department would take a look at pedestrian safety in the area. “DOT is committed to making streets safe for all users," she said in a statement yesterday. "DOT personnel has been at the crash site since this morning and we will be conducting a safety review at this intersection and the surrounding areas to see what safety improvements can be made. We will continue to work with local leaders and the community on additional improvements.”

Chin isn't the only Manhattan council member agitating for safety improvements in the wake of a serious pedestrian injury. On Wednesday evening, a pedestrian was struck by the driver of a black Lincoln town car on Amsterdam Avenue between 115th and 116th Streets. Council Member Mark Levine said yesterday that the victim remained in "extremely critical condition" at St. Luke's Hospital. Levine's office told Streetsblog today that he will be sending a letter to DOT about the crash later this afternoon.

Update: Levine's office has released a copy of the letter [PDF].

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