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.

  • This is so depressing. If charges don’t come for violence like this, how can Vision Zero ever succeed? It should make us all re-double our efforts and make the city go further, even on a momentous day where the Mayor signed the 25 mph speed limit bill.

    It also makes me wonder where the press has been. Hello?

  • lop

    “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.”

    It’s not his priority. De blasio sees vision zero the way many in the city do. It would be nice to have, but isn’t worth the loss of mobility for the driver class it would necessitate. That the rest of the city would become more mobile and that lives would be saved doesn’t overcome that obstacle.

    If you want safe streets don’t elect a mayor who drives his son to school over a subway line.

  • roguebagel

    Can we please connect this story with the traffic cameras and their critics? I haven’t seen a single reference.

  • J

    De Blasio’s silence on this is symptomatic of a culture that accepts such needless loss of life as the cost of doing business. NYPD certainly doesn’t care and apparently neither does De Blasio.

  • armyvet05

    The video is pretty clear that this driver does not belong behind the wheel of a car.

  • This is horrific. Thanks to Streetsblog for keeping us informed about just how serious pedestrian safety is and how far we have to go before justice is served.

  • WalkingNPR

    We have video. Of a car being where a car shouldn’t and kids being where they should (to even the most jaded anti-pedestrian–they were on the SIDEWALK for crying out loud!). The fact that there is even any question what should happen has eroded my last shred of respect for DeBlasio when it comes to this supposed campaign.

  • Maggie

    We don’t accept kids being abducted on their walks home from school; we don’t accept kids being beaten to death by their caretakers; how on earth can NYC accept a kid being bludgeoned to death on the sidewalk, under adult supervision, in front of her school?

    Everything we’d do to protect kids in any of these situations, we should be doing for Rylee Ramos.

  • R

    Thank you, Dana Lerner, for saying what needs to be said. If elected officials can’t stand up and say something when a child is killed, then we have a long way to go to Vision Zero.

  • dporpentine

    “Bello was dragged 200 feet before the driver came to a stop.”

    If I’d read that kind of sentence once in my life it would be too many.

    But what is it–once a week here in New York something like that happens? At least once a month.

    But, you know, The War on Cars and all that.

  • tooter turtle

    Or living outside of a penitentiary.

  • KillMoto

    “Bello was dragged 200 feet before the driver came to a stop”

    and

    “It appeared that Bello, who lived on East 54th Street, may have been crossing against the light and out of the crosswalk”

    Really? In my opinion, when someone was dragged 200 feet (more or less), how the heck do you know even vaguely where the starting point was?

    Sickening to blame the victim when there’s not a shred of evidence the victim did anything blameworthy

    🙁

  • Cold Shoaler

    You “know” the starting point by asking the non-criminal, non-dead driver, whose account you take as definitive. NYPD “Sources” did say “may have”, for whatever that’s worth. Vision zippo, indeed.

  • chekpeds

    This is revolting . where are the city council members ? press conference anyone ? it is on the sidewalk for shriek!

  • chekpeds

    ps in france there are slim bollard along many sidewalks

  • george

    it was not her fault. she was a wonderful lady!!!! He needs to get what he deserves! How can he not see her?? how can you hit someone and not know you hit them… and drag them 200 feet!! Arrest the bastard!!

  • Cassandra Dunn

    To add to the revolution of this past week, there was a huge car crash on 34th and Lexington ave on Thursday around 8:30pm in which at least 3 pedestrians were critically, possibly fatally injured. It was the most horrific crash I’ve ever seen and no news stations cared to report it. The worse part is some poor victims HUMAN REMAINS are still all over a light post on 33rd and Lexington. By human remains, I mean chunks of the victims insides, and a clump of hair with the scalp still attached. I wish I was exaggerating but I’m not. I have contacted all the news stations, 311, my local precinct, the department of sanitation, the department of health, the nyc medical examiner, the CDC, and emailed the mayors office and no one will take care of the removal of it. It’s been there for over 5 days and some poor person has their bike chain on the light post now because since this accident was never reported, I’m sure the
    bike owner doesn’t realize the gelatinous chunks on the post are someone’s insides. It’s a huge health hazard and so disrespectful to the poor victim!

  • Vernon6

    If that is true, that is one of the most horrific things I’ve ever heard.

  • Cassandra Dunn

    Unfortunately it is true, if you’re not squeamish and live in that area, I’m sure you could walk by it today and it will still be there. I’ve lived in this city for over 13 years and have seen my share of disturbing incidents, but this is the most horrendous thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve taken pictures to document it over the past few days and would post one, but honestly it’s not appropriate for a general blog. It’s so graphic that it’s something you’d expect to see on rotten.com. I feel terrible for whoever this poor person was and their family. This city has hit a new low!

  • Cassandra Dunn

    NBC4 New York was the only news station that cared about this issue and reported it tonight. They told me that they’re on it and are going to find a way to get this cleaned up. I’m so thankful for them, they actually care about the people in this city! http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Gore-Blood-Traffic-Pole-Accident-Lexington-33rd-Midtown-Manhattan-Remains-Cleanup-280803122.html

  • Cassandra Dunn

    eek, I’ve always wanted to travel to France, but it’s much less enticing now. I finally got in touch with NBC 4 News and unlike every other news station, they actually cared and reported my story!
    http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Gore-Blood-Traffic-Pole-Accident-Lexington-33rd-Midtown-Manhattan-Remains-Cleanup-280803122.html

  • Matt F

    just came back from riding in France this summer — wayyy safer than America and beautiful too

  • JamesR

    You know what.. I read something like this, and after years of activism here on various levels, it makes me think “I want out”. No city that is a place fit for human habitation would let this happen.

  • Mat50

    War on cars, eh? How about the Conspiracy against all those trivial lives who aren’t in cars?

  • Cassandra Dunn

    My thoughts exactly. I’m so grateful NBC news cared because no other news stations or city organizations did. They ran my story this past Wednesday night and it was one of the top stories on their site for a while, so they did a good job with exposure. They had the same issues I did when they tried to get someone to take responsibility and clean it up, but the FDNY finally agreed to do it for them. They’re also in contact with the Mayors office about this issue, so fingers crossed some new regulations will be implemented! Scary to think that the city doesn’t have standard protocol for something like this, I can’t imagine how many other times this has happened.

  • Miss Oneal

    Recklessness is happening both ways. There are pedestrians not looking out for cars, not following the rules of the road, and there are drivers not looking out for pedestrians and not using caution. I see it every day in my city, both sides are at fault. After what I witness each day, I would NEVER cross the street without looking once, twice, three times and more while I am walking to ensure a driver doesn’t hit me.

  • lop

    I don’t mind much if someone risks their own life as a pedestrian walking into traffic. I mind very much if a motorist risks my life by driving recklessly. The two are in no way comparable.

  • Rylee titi joly

    Dear miss oneal,
    My 8year old neice had just been dismissed from school, she was on the side walk hugging her mom when that murderer hit reverse on a one way street in a school zone crashing into the iron gate of a house stopping adjusted her car then hit reverse again into a group of children parents and grandparents picking up their babies ,oh by the way she was driving on the sidewalk when she murdered my 8year old neice . I understand that they’re a lot of careless people in this world but my beautiful 8year old neice was not one of them.

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