Driver Not Charged for Killing Girl, 10, and Injuring Mother in Borough Park

Workers clean the street after a motorist struck 10-year-old Blima Friedman and her mother. The Daily News reported that, according to NYPD, the victims were crossing "mid-block." Police charged the driver for taking the vehicle without permission, but did not charge him for killing Blima and injuring her mother.
Workers clean the street after a motorist struck 10-year-old Blima Friedman and her mother. The Daily News reported that, according to NYPD, the victims were crossing “midblock.” Police charged the driver for taking the vehicle without permission, but did not charge him for killing Blima and injuring her mother.

A motorist killed a 10-year-old girl and injured her pregnant mother as the pair crossed a street in Borough Park Tuesday night. Blima Friedman was at least the eighth child age 14 and under killed by a New York City driver in 2014, and the third in the last six weeks.

The crash occurred at around 8:57 p.m. The Daily News cited unnamed police sources who said Blima and her mother Sara Freeman were “crossing midblock” on 18th Avenue at 60th Street when Bilal Ghumman hit them with a Honda minivan. But a police spokesperson told Streetsblog the circumstances of the crash, including who had the right of way, remain under investigation, and photos of the scene appear to indicate the victims would have been at most a few feet outside the crosswalk.

Police said Ghumman, 22, was northbound on 18th Avenue when he made a left turn onto 60th Street and struck the victims. Ghumman was reportedly working as a valet for a nearby wedding, and NYPD said he was driving the minivan elsewhere without the owner’s consent. Ghumman had an outstanding warrant for a drug-related offense, according to NYPD and published reports, and he was arrested and charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

NYPD and Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson filed no charges against Ghumman for killing Blima Friedman and injuring her mother.

From the Daily News:

The mother, apparently pinned under the vehicle, remained conscious after the collision and screamed for her severely injured daughter as both lay on the ground, witnesses said.

“We saw the lady and her child on the ground. She was in shock,” said witness Angel Santos, 18, who was walking to a bodega when he came upon the scene. “She was still on the ground. She was screaming, ‘Oh my God, is (she) OK? Is (she) OK?'”

The frantic woman was also grasping her belly, apparently in the first throes of labor, witnesses said.

“She was holding her stomach, she looked like she was in pain,” said Jasmine Torres, 19.

Freeman, 33, was taken to Lutheran Medical Center, where she delivered her baby. Both were in stable condition as of last night, according to the Times. Blima was declared dead on arrival at Maimonides Medical Center, NYPD said.

This fatal crash occurred in the 66th Precinct, and in the City Council district represented by David Greenfield.

Tuesday’s crash was the second incident in two days involving a motorist striking a mother and child on a city street. A woman and her 4-year-old son were hit at Broadway and W. 65th Street, on the Upper West Side, as they walked to the boy’s preschool at around 9 a.m. Monday, DNAinfo reported. The mother, who pushed her child out of the driver’s path, was hospitalized with serious injuries. The driver left the scene.

Traffic crashes consistently rank as the leading cause of injury-related death for children in NYC. According to crash data compiled by Streetsblog, city motorists killed 11 pedestrians age 14 and under in 2013, when pedestrian injuries and deaths reached a five-year high. Drivers killed eight child pedestrians in 2012, when injuries and fatalities were closer to the five-year mean. Eleven months after its launch, Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative is having no discernible effect on the number of children killed in traffic.

  • Andres Dee

    Tragic. Crosswalks are often obstructed by construction, vehicles, debris, puddles and other hazards. Does the presence of a crosswalk mean that people crossing in the general vicinity have some rights, or do people who walk lose their rights when they sidestep the crosswalk, even by a few feet?

    Neighborhoods like Borough Park are compact and (in theory) very walkable. Yet, people there seem wedded to their cars. Businesses and event venues often do not have on premises parking, so they set up “valet” services. As there are typically no major lots near these places, it’s unclear where these cars get parked.

    If the right people could be engaged, neighborhoods like Borough Park (where a high percentage of residents go successfully car-free an entire day every week) can serve as excellent laboratories for a better quality of life through fewer cars (or reduced car use).

  • Aaron

    I was there. This was nowhere close to being “mid-block.” The bodies and vehicle came to rest not very far from the crosswalk. It seems entirely likely that they were hit by the vehicle while they were in the crosswalk or very close to it. This was not some mid-block “dart out.” It happened in a place where it would be perfectly reasonable for people to cross the street because there are no cars parked along the curb — everything is open and well-lighted due to the bus stop on one side and the gas station on the corner. It is just absurd to call this “mid-block” or to suggest that the mother and child were seriously at fault.

  • Alex

    I don’t trust a damn thing any “unnamed NYPD source” says. But even if they were crossing mid-block, that should not automatically excuse the driver. The NYPD acts as if any infraction – no matter how small – by a pedestrian in the street means that they are entirely to blame for any collision with a vehicle. Was the driver speeding? Driving recklessly? Doesn’t matter. The pedestrian entered the street with the knowledge that cars roam there and is fully responsible. Yet somehow, when a driver plows into pedestrians on the sidewalk, the NYPD says “they lost control” as if that’s an excuse.

    The whole thing is disgraceful and Vision Zero is a joke. Lower the speed limit? Great, now where is the enforcement? Made killing someone who had the right of way a crime? Super, now how about charging people? A few halfhearted legislative changes mean nothing without a culture change at the NYPD and the DA offices. That’s not going to happen without some political capital being spent by the mayor. But he seems completely unwilling to stand up for much of anything, let alone the lives of children.

  • Chelsia Marcius Rose (also listed as Chelsia Rose Marcius in other stories) is the same Daily News reporter who cited anonymous police sources who said that Allison Liao “broke free” from her grandmother before being struck by Ahmad Abu-Zayedeha in the crosswalk. Video of the incident proved that initial report to be completely incorrect.

    Yet the reporter once again cites an unnamed police source who says that Blima her mother Sara were “crossing mid-block” even though this post and other accounts say that may not be true.

    It’s legit to ask why anyone should trust the Daily News and this reporter on the issue of traffic violence. As we saw with Abu-Zayedeha, who still believes that Allie “broke free,” the rush to print anonymously sourced details before an investigation can really even begin has some truly terrible effects down the line.

  • Anonymous police sources leaking information to the media is a large contributing factor to the public perception that pedestrians are often to blame for being struck by vehicles.

    Referring to Doug G’s post below, Chelsia Marcius Rose, the Daily News reporter who cited anonymous police sources that said
    Allison Liao “broke free” from her grandmother before being struck by
    Ahmad Abu-Zayedeha in the crosswalk last year never admitted she reported bad information, and even if her newspaper printed a correction most readers wouldn’t have seen it.

    It’s a bad combination of loose lipped police officers and sloppy journalism, and because of it many people in this city think that kid “broke free” and the driver was blameless. Then they read Andrea Peyser’s or Steve Cuozzo’s (her NY Post counterpart) columns and think their dreck is right on.

    Tom Wrobleski of the Staten Island Advance seems to be that paper’s Andrea Peyser or Steve Cuozzo.

    “DOT speed-camera car is parked illegally? Call it poetic justice” (commentary by Tom Wrobleski)

    Written despite the fact that it was reported in the paper he works for that the DOT vehicle is not parked illegally.

  • It’s not just loose lipped cops who show up after a collision and give bad info to the media, the problem goes all the way up to the office of the NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information. The media reporting the death of Jenna Daniels quoted the DCPI as saying “pedestrian error: crossing outside marked crosswalk” was the preliminary cause of the collision that killed her. (the reporter, Zak Koeske of the SI Advance confirmed the info came from the DCPI). When Steve Vaccaro pointed out that NYC traffic rules did not prohibit pedestrians from crossing mid block at the collision site, an NYPD spokeswoman backtracked by saying the investigation was still ongoing.

    So if the investigation is still ongoing, isn’t it premature for the police department to announce findings?

    If you think this doesn’t influence public opinion in a counterproductive way, note that the very first reader comment on the above story starts with the statement that “Law abiding people don’t step in front of moving vehicles”.

  • Jason

    Sorry, Daily News, but jaywalking is not the same offense as recklessly operating a 4,000 pound metal box in a dense city of pedestrians.

    Why do these discussions always start with “was the pedestrian outside of the crosswalk” instead of “was the motorist speeding” ?

    What’s more… was the motorist accelerating into the turn? (…yet another homicidal habit of nyc motorists that manages to escape our attention in favor of obsessing over nonsensical distractions like txt’ing cyclists)

    How fast do you have to be driving to strike 2… 2!!!! people crossing street – and not have enough time to brake?

    Maybe the motorist was driving safely… but we’ll never know.

    It’s appalling that law enforcement, politicians and their enablers in the media continue to victim-blame in these tragedies, and fail to cast any light on the deadly menace of reckless driving on our city streets.

    Shame on all parties involved.

  • Andres Dee

    We really need to look into the claim that the valet “was driving the minivan elsewhere without the owner’s consent”. Was the van being valet parked on behalf of the owner or being returned, or was this truly unauthorized? What are the owner, valet service or wedding hall’s potential liability in this?

  • the_local_guy

    Everybody knows the police almost always side with the driver. Often they claim the victims were outside the crosswalk. Yet when there are well documented cases where the victims were inside the crosswalk, still nothing happens and instead other excuses are made. The question of inside the crosswalk or outside the crosswalk is just a distraction. Either way, nothing happens to the driver.

    When is this city going to wake up and demand enforcement of basic traffic laws? And demand meaningful punishment for negligent drivers who kill people?

  • Hilda

    I am just so, so sorry for this family. To have the birth of your baby on the same day as the death of your child, this is so unspeakably sad. My heart goes out to this family.
    Adding to this tragedy is the insult of immediate blame when the vehicle was euphemistically stolen by a driver that had a warrant out for arrest.

  • But was the girl wearing a helment?


The Weekly Carnage

The Weekly Carnage is a Friday round-up of motor vehicle violence across the five boroughs. For more on the origins and purpose of this column, please read About the Weekly Carnage. Fatal Crashes (9 Killed Since Nov. 14; 190 This Year*) Borough Park: Blima Friedman, 10, Struck Crossing Street With Her Pregnant Mother, Also Injured; No […]

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