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No Charges for Driver Who Killed 72-Year-Old Cyclist in Sunset Park

A driver killed Rigoberto Diaz as he biked through the intersection of 48th Street and Third Avenue in Sunset Park. Image: Google Maps
A driver killed Rigoberto Diaz as he biked through the intersection of 48th Street and Third Avenue in Sunset Park. Image: Google Maps
A driver killed Rigoberto Diaz as he biked through the intersection of 48th Street and Third Avenue in Sunset Park. Image: Google Maps

A motorist killed a senior on a bike under the Gowanus Expressway on a Sunset Park street where drivers are routinely involved in high-speed crashes.

The crash happened Wednesday at around 5:30 p.m. Rigoberto Diaz, 72, was traveling westbound against traffic on 48th Street and attempting to turn left onto Third Avenue when a driver traveling northbound on Third hit him with a Chevrolet SUV, according to NYPD and Patch.

Diaz died at Lutheran Hospital. NYPD and District Attorney Ken Thompson filed no charges against the driver, whose name was not released. A police spokesperson told us the investigation was still open as of this afternoon.

NYPD had no information on how fast the driver who hit Diaz was going. Police said Diaz was making a “wide left turn,” which could mean he was attempting to get to southbound Third Avenue when the driver hit him.

There are traffic signals at the intersection of Third Avenue and 48th Street. If the crash occurred as described by police, and Diaz and the driver approached the crossing at a perpendicular angle, one of two scenarios seems likely: Either the driver or Diaz ran the light, or Diaz made his turn near the end of the light cycle as the driver entered the intersection at speed.

Injury crashes along Third Avenue this year, with the site of Wednesday’s fatal collision indicated by the blue dot. Image: Vision Zero View
Injury crashes along Third Avenue this year, as of June, with the site of Wednesday’s collision indicated by the blue dot. Image: Vision Zero View
Injury crashes along Third Avenue this year, with the site of Wednesday’s fatal collision indicated by the blue dot. Image: Vision Zero View

Third Avenue through Sunset Park is a service road beneath the Gowanus Expressway. According to city data dozens of people have been injured this year alone in crashes along the stretch where Diaz was killed. Many of the injured were motor vehicle occupants, indicating collisions at high speeds.

Sunset Park has no decent north-south bike route. A road diet approved in 2012 reduced pedestrian injuries and fatalities on Fourth Avenue, but DOT not include bike lanes. The Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway is expected to one day extend through Sunset Park, but would be located to the west of the highway, far from the residential heart of the neighborhood. Community Board 7, the district where Diaz was killed, has asked DOT and NYPD for help in making Sunset Park streets safer.

The crash that killed Rigoberto Diaz occurred in the City Council district represented by Carlos Menchaca, and in the 72nd Precinct, where as of June local officers had ticketed 199 drivers for speeding in 2015.

Correction: The original version of this post misstated how the crash occurred according to NYPD and published accounts. The copy was corrected.

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