It’s Still Legal to Run Over a Child on a New York City Sidewalk [Updated]

An 8-year-old girl run over on the sidewalk outside her Bronx school Friday was one of at least two New York City pedestrians killed by motorists over the weekend. A woman struck while walking to work in Brooklyn Sunday morning was the second victim. No charges have been filed in either crash. NYPD and the Post blamed the Brooklyn victim for her own death.

Rylee Ramos. Photo via Daily News
A driver fatally struck 8-year-old Rylee Ramos and injured several others, including two more children, on the sidewalk outside a Bronx school. No charges were filed. Photo via Daily News

On Friday afternoon, Sonia Rodriguez backed onto a sidewalk adjacent to PS 307, striking 10 people, according to reports. At least two victims, including third-grader Rylee Ramos, were students who had just been dismissed from school. From the Daily News:

Rylee and her friend, Genesis Rodriguez, were only paces away from the school’s front door along Eames Place in Kingsbridge Heights when a blue Honda Accord hopped the curb and hit them about 2:45 p.m. The 55-year-old woman behind the wheel then tried to drive forward but all that did was “hit more people,” said Eliasser Lopez, 11. “It was something out of this world,” Eliasser said of the horror.

When the driver finally stopped, Rylee was injured beyond saving, though some tried to give her CPR. The car hit the girl so hard it crushed one of her lungs, family members said.

“[Sonia] Rodriguez hit a chain-link fence,” the Daily News reported, “a wrought-iron gate and a parked vehicle before pinning little Rylee to a pole, police said.” 

Ramos was pronounced dead at St. Barnabas Hospital. Genesis Rodriguez was hospitalized, as was a 4-year-old girl and four women.

Video posted by the Daily News, embedded after the jump, shows the car backing onto the sidewalk as Rodriguez appears to accelerate. Friday’s incident was reminiscent of a 2013 crash in which a motorist hit five children on a sidewalk near a school in Maspeth. Several children sustained severe, life-altering injuries as a result of the Queens crash, and one victim died days later from a reported asthma attack. The driver, identified as Francis Aung Lu, was not charged by NYPD or District Attorney Richard Brown.

Rodriguez was questioned and released by police after the Bronx crash, according to the Times. Streetsblog has asked DA Robert Johnson’s office if charges are being considered. Update: A source with Johnson’s office says the crash is under investigation.

Rylee Ramos was at least the fifth child aged 14 and under killed by a New York City driver in 2014, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. Dana Lerner, whose 9-year-old son Cooper Stock was killed last January by a cab driver who avoided criminal charges, was alarmed that Mayor de Blasio said nothing publicly about the death of another child at the hands of a motorist.

“It concerns me that the mayor can spend so much time focusing on the Ebola epidemic when a child has died in the reckless driving epidemic,” Lerner told Streetsblog. “He should have the common courtesy to acknowledge and comment when he claims that Vision Zero is his priority.”

On Sunday at around 7 a.m., an SUV driver hit 63-year-old Florence Bello at Ralph Avenue and E. 65th Street in Flatlands, as Bello was walking to work at a nearby Duane Reade.

WINS reported that Bello was dragged 200 feet before the driver came to a stop, and video shot by News 12 showed that the vehicle had major front end damage, indicating speed may have been a factor in the crash. But anonymous NYPD sources cited by the Post cast blame on Bello while exculpating the driver.

It appeared that Bello, who lived on East 54th Street, may have been crossing against the light and out of the crosswalk, law-enforcement sources said.

The driver remained at the scene, and there were no signs of criminality, cops added.

“It’s just very shocking to come here and see this, especially here,” an acquaintance of Bello’s told WINS. “And she was such a sweetie. She was like a staple in the community. You come here and you see her little face, and it’s nice to come to this Duane Reade. I’m just so sorry to her and her family.”

Less than an hour before Florence Bello was killed, a motorist hit a pedestrian at 18th Avenue and 65th Street in Bensonhurst, inflicting “life-threatening injuries.” NYPD arrested the driver for failure to yield.

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