Two Pedestrians Killed in 24 Hours, Including Seventh MTA Victim of 2014

MTA bus drivers have killed two pedestrians since 2013 while making turns at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue, Wyckoff Avenue, and Palmetto Street, but bus route modifications were not included in a DOT safety proposal. Image: DOT
MTA bus drivers have killed two pedestrians since 2013 while making turns at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue, Wyckoff Avenue, and Palmetto Street, but bus route modifications were not included in a DOT safety proposal. Image: DOT

Update: The victim in the MTA crash was identified as Edgar Torres. WNYC reports that, according to a witness, Torres was in a crosswalk and crossing with the signal when he was hit.

Drivers have killed two New York City pedestrians since Wednesday. One of the victims was the fourth pedestrian to be fatally struck by an MTA bus driver in the last two months, and the crash occurred at the same intersection on the Brooklyn-Queens border where a city bus driver killed pedestrian Ella Bandes in 2013.

At around 5:10 a.m. today, a man believed to be in his 40s was crossing Palmetto Street when he was struck by the rear wheel of a Q58 as the bus driver turned right onto Palmetto from Wyckoff Avenue, according to NYPD and published reports. An NYPD spokesperson said the victim was pronounced dead on arrival at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center. As of this afternoon his identity was being withheld pending family notification.

On January 31, 2013, a B52 driver making a right turn from Myrtle Avenue onto Palmetto Street struck and killed 23-year-old Ella Bandes. Last April DOT announced plans to improve visibility and shorten crossing distances at the perilous six-legged intersection where Wyckoff, Myrtle, and Palmetto meet. Rush hour turn bans, for two hours a day, were included in the revamp, but MTA bus routes were not affected. Bandes’s mother Judy Kottick noted that the turn restrictions would not have prevented the crash that killed her daughter.

Anonymous police sources told the Daily News that the victim in today’s crash “appeared to be walking in the street, outside the crosswalk” at the time of the collision. The NYPD spokesperson we talked with had no such details, and said it was unclear who had the right of way. Police are still investigating the crash, the spokesperson said. The Post reported that “no criminality is suspected.”

MTA bus drivers have killed at least six pedestrians and one cyclist this year, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog, with four fatal crashes since the beginning of September. Caroline Samponaro, deputy director of Transportation Alternatives, released a statement earlier today:

Six pedestrians, one bicyclist and one motorcyclist have been hit and killed by MTA bus drivers so far in 2014. Of the six pedestrians killed, five were hit by a turning bus while trying to cross the street. In 2013, eight pedestrians were struck and killed by MTA buses.

As we await the results of the NYPD’s investigation of this failure-to-yield collision, we call on MTA bus operators and management to immediately become full partners in Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero objective of ending traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Further, we call on the mayor and DOT Commissioner Trottenberg to expedite the promised rebuilding of dangerous intersections, particularly along arterial streets where most pedestrian fatalities and injuries occur. New York City will not achieve Vision Zero without street redesigns that target the most hazardous locations.

The MTA rebuffed calls to participate directly in Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative in March, saying its existing bus driver training program was adequate.

At approximately 12:19 p.m. Wednesday, the driver of a cement truck hit a 60-year-old man on Northern Boulevard at 34th Street in Astoria. Police said the victim was crossing Northern north to south when he was struck by the westbound truck driver. The victim was declared dead on at Mount Sinai Queens Hospital. His identity had not been released as of this afternoon.

NYPD had no information on who had the right of way, and said the investigation is ongoing.

This morning’s crash occurred in the 104th Precinct, in the City Council district represented by Antonio Reynoso. The Wednesday crash occurred in the 114th Precinct and in Jimmy Van Bramer’s council district.

  • IlIlIl

    It doesn’t matter if someone is inside or outside an intersection when the driver isn’t paying attention.

  • dporpentine

    Outside the crosswalk: “What could I do but hit and kill the person?”
    Inside the crosswalk but against the light: “What could I do but hit and kill the person?”
    Inside the crosswalk and with the light: “I didn’t see them. What could I do but . . .” etc.
    No matter what happens, the driver is always the real victim.

  • MatthewEH

    5-legged? It looks 6-legged to me.

  • Malcomx

    People do not pay attention when they are walking I see it everyday people just walk into the middle of the street! People on bikes continuously cutt off buses, we need to start taking responsibility for our actions. This poor bus driver has to now live with the fact THT he/she killed someone because they couldn’t wait for the bus to finish turning!

  • Brad Aaron

    So it is.

  • J

    I find it interesting that the “adequate” MTA bus driver training is leaving a trail of dead bodies in its wake.

  • Brad Aaron

    Witness says the victim was crossing with the light.

    http://www.wnyc.org/story/corner-new-safety-improvements-yet-another-death-bus/

    Most pedestrian deaths are caused in whole or in part by drivers breaking traffic laws.

  • SteveVaccaro

    It’s so sad to hear these reports. Than you Brad for tempering the news with the critical information that in the case of the Palmetto Street death, this is a proven deadly intersection, and New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) is a repeat offender–an instiutional actor that could have prevented this death, but in its arrogance refused to. Any lawyer representing crash victims will tell you that NYCTA is truly is a bad actor when it comes to accountability for the harm it causes. No entity, government or private, pursues a more aggressively irresponsible approach. NYCTA routinely refuses to provide even no-fault medical benefits to the people its buses ill and main, to say nothing of its scorched-earth approach to litigating its liability to crash victims. This is all of a piece with its refusal to adopt policies to prevent crashes and promote safety. NYCTA operates an enourmous fleet of giant vehicles on densely populated urban streets, and it views the traffic casualties it causes in the aggregate as inevitable “collateral damage,” and the individuals who make up that stream of casualties as victims solely of their own negligence and/or malingering presumptive fraudsters. This attitude comes through in everything NYCTA does towards its crash victims and the broader safe streets advocacy community. NYCTA deserves very close scrutiny and all the pressure that we and victims families can bring to bear until it changes its belligerent posture toward safety and accountability.

  • nycbikecommuter

    Access-A-Ride are some of the most reckless and careless drivers I know worst than bus drivers. I also often ride by the MTA bus depot on Grand in Maspeth and they drive like they own the streets there. I was even once harassed by a bus driver there because he was too upset that I was in front of him on the bridge, he drove like 2 feet behind me constantly blowing his horn until we cleared the bridge. Then he opened the door and cursed me. I filed a report and never heard from them. I used to have more respect for bus drivers but not any more.

  • nycbikecommuter

    This driver wasn’t paying attention, now, yes, he has to live with consequences but no worries I’m sure his union will allow him to retire early due to PTST or whatever…

  • Ben Garber

    Myrtle is one of the worst streets in the city, especially in places with the three roads like this one, and the elevated trains add to the madness. But even when turns are banned, as they should be, there is no enforcement of the turn bans and drivers keep ignoring them. Which means that pedestrians have to expect drivers to break the law.

  • SheRidesABike

    I didn’t realize the MTA pushed back against revisiting its policies re Vision Zero. In addition to rampant failure to yield experienced as a pedestrian, countless times I’ve taken the lane to avoid a door zone in the absence of a decent bike lane or wide shoulder to find myself tailgated by MTA buses or, come upon a red light to find a bus stopped behind me with only a foot or two of space (yes, all drivers are guilty of this but professionals have to be held to a high standard). Or, have been riding in a bike lane really close to an intersection only to be passed by an MTA bus that then starts pulling right before it has fully passed me. “Adequate”? Please.

  • Brad Aaron

    When I reported that MTA reps basically said “No thanks” to Vision Zero, I was harangued by two MTA spokespeople. The exchange crossed the line from the normal flack CYA routine to bullying. Totally unprofessional.

    This was less than a week after a bus driver killed Marisol Martinez and almost ran over her cousin and a friend in a crosswalk.

  • JamesR

    They are some of the most aggressive drivers on the road. A few days ago, I had a Westchester Bee Line bus (they cross into the Bronx to drop off passengers at the subway terminii) turning left at an intersection cut me off as I was walking through a crosswalk. I put my hands up (the “I’m walking here” gesture) and the driver says “Not good. Not good” through her open window. As if I’m somehow in the wrong.

    No doubt it is a high stress job, but they’re driving something the size of a goddamn locomotive on city streets teeming with vulnerable, flesh and blood people. Not good, indeed.

  • JamesR

    Access a Ride vehicles are terrifying to be around. All the aggressiveness and carelessness of a gypsy cab in an 8,000lb short bus.

  • Cold Shoaler

    With extra wide mirrors the drivers neither use nor know the dimensions of.

  • Bolwerk

    Then strategically convert a block or two to a ped plaza.

  • lop

    Need the MTA on board. 3 road junction, six road segments approaching/leaving the junction, each has buses.

  • Mima

    It is frustrating when people are saying that the driver is the real victim here. Is that what I’m supposed to tell my daughter when she asks me why her uncle died? No the real victim here is Edgar Torres. May God give our family strength in this time of need.

  • nycbikecommuter

    Precisely. They behave like cab drivers basically.

  • WalkingNPR

    Even on the Hudson Greenway, by Pier 83-84, I’ve gotten to the point where I won’t proceed on the bike lane with the light unless there are no buses in sight. Numerous times a northbound bus has swung left and crossed the bike path well after the light changed. The other day, one did that and was followed by a southbound bus turning right, well into the middle of the bike lane’s green light at this point. The left-turning bus obscured the right-turning one to the point that a lady next to me with a baby on the back of her bike nearly got hit. It’s infuriating.

  • AnoNYC

    These bow-tie intersections are collision prone. Add the elevated structure supports for the rapid transit line above and it’s a recipe for disaster. Vision Zero should give extra attention to these corridors and redesign them with more pedestrian islands and more limited/predictable patterns for automotive traffic.

    Creating physically protected bus lanes could also help by reducing driver stress/fatigue. And technologically, how about proximity sensors alongside the buses?

  • LuisD

    I’d go one step further and close 2 of the 6 streets and convert the intersection into a standard 4-way crossing. You preserve pedestrian and cyclist connectivity, create traffic calming, and you attack automobile dependence by eliminating car connections and lowering demand through negative induced demand.

  • lop

    Which two are you closing, and where are you rerouting the buses that use each of the intersections 6 legs?

  • AlexBrooklyn

    If the NYCTA isn’t willing to upgrade its bus driver training (as the MBTA in Boston did last year), when will it at least consider installing life-saving wheel guards on its buses? http://www.s1gard.com/

  • Lee Haber

    I think the only real way to make this intersection safer is to simplify it. They should close off Palmetto Street in the blocks leading up to the intersection and make them into pedestrian plazas.

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