NYPD Does Not Apply Vision Zero Law in Fatal Elmhurst Crosswalk Collision

Melania Ward was struck by an MTA bus driver as she crossed Astoria Boulevard in Elmhurst. The red arrow represents the movement of the driver and the white arrow the movement of the victim, according to NYPD. Image: Google Maps
Melania Ward was struck by an MTA bus driver as she crossed Astoria Boulevard at 80th Street in Elmhurst. The red arrow represents the movement of the driver and the white arrow the movement of the victim, according to information released by NYPD. Image: Google Maps

An MTA bus driver killed a pedestrian in Queens last night. As with a fatal August crash in Manhattan, NYPD did not apply charges against the driver under a new Vision Zero law, despite information that suggests the victim had the right of way.

Melania Ward, 55, was hit by the driver of the Q47 she’d been riding after she exited the bus at Astoria Boulevard and 80th Street, according to the Daily News. The crash happened at around 10 p.m. NYPD told Gothamist the victim was “crossing Astoria Boulevard, south to north, in the marked intersection, when a Q47 MTA bus, traveling north on 80th Street, proceeded to make a right turn onto eastbound Astoria Boulevard.”

From the Daily News:

The woman was apparently run over by the front tire of the bus, witnesses said.

“She was sitting next to me on the bus,” said Jan Lim, 27, who ran over to the woman as she lay under the midsection of the bus.

“She was crying. I said don’t fall asleep, keep breathing,” Lim said.

Ward was pronounced dead at Elmhurst General Hospital.

Unless the bus driver had an exclusive signal phase, based on NYPD’s account of the crash, Ward would have had the right of way. NYPD told Gothamist the department “could not say” if this was the case, and no charges were filed.

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 on August 22, but 60 days after the bill was signed by Mayor de Blasio, a spokesperson for the mayor said NYPD wasn’t ready to enforce it.

On August 29, a yellow cab driver struck and killed a woman on the Upper East Side. NYPD filed no charges, and a police spokesperson told Streetsblog, “Preliminarily, both of them had the right of way.” Since the motorist would have been required by law to yield, only the victim would have had the right of way.

Since Section 19-190 became law, New York City motorists have killed at least six pedestrians, and injured several others. To date, no drivers have been reported charged under the new law.

Melania Ward was at least the fourth pedestrian or cyclist killed by an MTA bus driver in 2014, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. By this time last year, MTA bus drivers had killed at least five pedestrians, and one man riding a skateboard.

This fatal crash occurred in the 115th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Deputy Inspector Michael A. Cody, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 115th Precinct council meetings happen at 7 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month at the precinct, 92-15 Northern Boulevard. Call 718-533-2010 for information.

The City Council district where Melania Ward was killed is represented by Costa Constantinides. To encourage Constantinides to take action to improve street safety in his district and citywide, contact him at 212-788-6963, costa@council.nyc.gov or @Costa4NY.

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