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Will NYPD Apply New Vision Zero Law to Cabbie Who Killed Woman on UES?

NYPD has not filed charges against a cab driver who killed a pedestrian on the Upper East Side last week, despite indications that the crash may warrant a misdemeanor charge under a new city law.

The cab driver who killed a woman on the Upper East Side last week may or may not lose his hack license under Cooper's Law. Image: WCBS
The cab driver who killed a woman on the Upper East Side last week may or may not be charged under a new law that makes it a misdemeanor to strike pedestrians and cyclists who have the right of way. Image: WCBS
The taxi industry. Photo: WCBS

Available information suggests the cab driver failed to yield to a pedestrian with the right of way. According to press accounts, the 58-year-old victim was in a crosswalk at around 2 p.m. last Friday when the cab driver, who was northbound on Madison, hit her while turning left onto E. 79th Street. The victim was dragged before the driver came to a stop, leaving her pinned beneath the Nissan NV200 cab until witnesses overturned the vehicle, which was still running, to free her.

The woman was declared dead at Lenox Hill Hospital. As of Thursday morning her identity was still being withheld pending family notification, according to NYPD.

The 30-year-old cab driver was not injured, reports said, and his passenger was treated for a head injury at the scene.

"Preliminarily, both of them had the right of way,” an NYPD spokesperson said. This is not possible, but it is a strong indication that the victim was crossing with the walk signal. Since the motorist would have been required by law to yield in this situation, only the victim would have had the right of way.

A new city law makes it a misdemeanor for drivers to strike pedestrians or cyclists who have the right of way. Intro 238, now known as Section 19-190, took effect last month, but at that time a spokesperson for Mayor de Blasio said NYPD wasn't yet ready to enforce it.

The investigation into Friday's fatal crash is ongoing, NYPD said. Neither NYPD nor the TLC would release the driver's name. The TLC has suspended the driver's hack license for now, but said what happens next depends on the police. "We await the outcome of PD’s investigation, and any charges or summonses that may result," said TLC spokesperson Allan Fromberg.

Since NYPD will usually release the name of a driver who is involved in a serious crash if (and only if) charges or summonses are issued, it seems likely that hasn't happened yet -- and police and prosecutors rarely issue charges against a driver unless they do so in the immediate aftermath of a crash.

Under another new law that takes effect on September 21, the TLC can suspend or revoke the hack licenses of cab drivers who kill and injure pedestrians and cyclists while breaking traffic laws. Called "Cooper's Law," it was prompted by the death of 9-year-old Cooper Stock, who was struck by a taxi driver in an Upper West Side crosswalk last January. That driver was not charged by NYPD or Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, and lost his hack license because the crash occurred during a one-year probationary period and the TLC opted not to renew it.

Since Intro 238 took effect on August 22, New York City motorists have killed at least three more pedestrians and injured several others. A driver killed a 62-year-old man in Midwood on August 28. The same day, a driver struck three seniors, killing 82-year-old Shu Fan Huang, on South Street in Manhattan. A driver killed a 53-year-old man in Jamaica on August 30. On September 2, an MTA bus driver injured a senior in Maspeth, and a livery cab driver jumped a curb and crushed a pedestrian's leg in Cobble Hill.

No charges were reported filed for any of those crashes.

NYPD currently investigates only a fraction of serious crashes. The city's package of new Vision Zero laws are not going to reduce traffic injuries and deaths if Mayor de Blasio's NYPD doesn't enforce them.

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