Driver “Flying” Through Harlem School Zone Kills Child — Tabs Blame Victim

The car involved in the collision that killed Ervi Secundino had extensive damage to the hood and grille, indicating the crash likely occurred at a high rate of speed. Witnesses said the driver was “flying” through a school zone at dismissal time. Image: WNBC
The car involved in the collision that killed Ervi Secundino had extensive damage to the hood and grille, indicating the crash likely occurred at a high rate of speed. Witnesses said the driver was “flying” through a school zone at dismissal time. Image: WNBC

A driver operating a TLC-licensed vehicle killed a 12-year-old boy outside a school in Harlem Wednesday.

The crash occurred in the 32nd Precinct, where officers issue an average of between one and two speeding tickets per day.

Ervi Secundino was hit at approximately 3:15 p.m. in front of Frederick Douglass Academy, where he was in the sixth grade, the Times reported. He was crossing Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard at 150th Street, west to east, when the southbound driver struck him and dragged him for one block, according to NYPD and media reports.

Ervi lived on 145th Street, near the school. He was pronounced dead at Harlem Hospital. Ervi was at least the second child age 14 and under killed by a New York City motorist this year, and the tenth since January 2014, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog.

The driver was a 23-year-old man who lives in Brooklyn, a police spokesperson said. His name was not released by NYPD or the Taxi and Limousine Commission. NYPD had no information on the driver’s speed or who had the right of way, and police had filed no charges as of late this morning. The NYPD spokesperson said the investigation was ongoing.

Images from the scene show the car, a Toyota livery cab, with extensive damage to the hood and grille, indicating the driver was likely exceeding the 25 miles per hour speed limit. While the Post and the Daily News blamed the child for being in the street, WNBC spoke with witnesses who said the driver was speeding.

The school zone on southbound Adam Clay Powell Jr. Boulevard at 150th Street, where the unidentified driver hit Ervi Secundino and dragged him for one block. Image: Google Maps
The school zone on southbound Adam Clay Powell Jr. Boulevard at 150th Street, where the unidentified driver hit Ervi Secundino and dragged him for one block. Image: Google Maps

“[T]he cab has a big dent in the hood,” said WNBC reporter Ida Siegal. “Witnesses say the driver was flying down the street when Ervi ran right in front of him.”

“The boy was coming across the street, the car was coming so fast — it hit him, that’s when he flew up in the air and [the car] dragged him all the way here,” said Philis Miles, a crossing guard who witnessed the crash.

“The majority of the time the cars do speed through here,” parent Madeline Hernandez told WNBC. “You understand you have to grab onto your children.”

The WNBC story included video of police driving the cab through the intersection, “performing what appeared to be speed tests,” Siegal said.

“The vehicle was registered to a properly licensed TLC base, but the driver does not appear to have been engaged in for-hire work,” said TLC spokesperson Allan Fromberg. Fromberg told Capital “the vehicle that struck Secundino was affiliated with an Uber base.”

“Based on all preliminary information this was not an Uber driver,” a source with knowledge of the crash, who did not want to be identified, told Streetsblog.

As in other NYPD commands, speed enforcement is clearly not a priority for the 32nd Precinct. Thanks to Albany lawmakers’ strict and arbitrary limits on the use of speed cameras in New York City, DOT is allowed a maximum of just 140 cameras. At last count the agency had deployed only 63 of them. [Update: DOT emailed us to say 93 cameras are now in use.] According to WNYC’s map of speed camera violations, at one point a speed cam was located on this stretch of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, but was moved in January. If speed cameras were deployed in every school zone in the city, it is possible Ervi Secundino would still be alive.

Ervi Secundino was killed in community board district 10, where Council Member Inez Dickens and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer just reappointed board chair and safe streets obstacle Henrietta Lyle.

As for potential charges against the driver, a spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance declined to comment for this story.

Update: Caroline Samponaro, deputy director for Transportation Alternatives, sent us the following statement:

Speed safety cameras are an essential tool in the Vision Zero toolbox and reinforce the message that speeding on NYC streets is unacceptable. In order to consistently discourage speeding and protect our most vulnerable street users, like 12 year-old children walking on streets near school, NYC needs the authority to install more speed safety cameras than the 140 currently allowed by the State Legislature.

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