NYPD: No Charges for Driver Whose Boat Trailer Detached, Killing Cyclist

NYPD has filed no charges against a driver whose boat trailer came unhitched and struck two people riding bikes in Staten Island yesterday, killing one of the victims.

Alexa Cioffi. Photo via SI Advance
Alexa Cioffi. Photo via Staten Island Advance

Alexa Cioffi, 21, and another woman were riding northbound on Hylan Boulevard at Redgrave Avenue at around 5:18 p.m. when a northbound driver towing a boat with a truck attempted to pass the cyclists on the left, according to the Staten Island Advance.

As the SUV switched lanes, its trailer became detached and continued to travel north into the right lane, striking the 22-year-old cyclist. The boat was propelled north, hitting Cioffi who became pinned under the vehicle as it stopped.

“They were both hit — thud, thud,” a witness told the Daily News. “One woman was under the boat. The other woman was lying facedown by the light pole.”

Cioffi was pronounced dead at Staten Island University Hospital, the Advance reported. The second victim was hospitalized in critical condition.

If the crash occurred as reported, Cioffi and the other woman were cycling with the right of way when they were hit. But anonymous NYPD sources blamed the victims for their injuries while exculpating the unnamed driver, telling the Post the cyclists were not wearing helmets — which is legal — and that “police did not believe there was any immediate signs [sic] of criminality.”

Meanwhile, the Daily News cited unnamed NYPD sources who indicated that the trailer was not properly attached to the truck.

Sources close to the investigation said the hitch had been modified in some way.

“It came unhitched from the trailer, it wasn’t properly secured,” a police source said.

Streetsblog reader Joe Enoch is a reporter and is currently producing a national story for “Inside Edition” about the hazards of improperly attached trailers. “Unhitched trailers are more common than you think and very often deadly,” Enoch told us via email. Based on a crash scene photo published by the Daily News, Enoch said: “It’s likely the driver did not have either of the two required safety chains. You cross the two chains so that in the unlikely event the trailer comes loose, they safely cradle the hitch. That said, there’s also a good chance that the trailer did not have a proper pin to keep the latch from popping off.”

NYPD had issued no charges or summonses as of this morning. A police spokesperson said the investigation is “ongoing,” which usually means the Collision Investigation Squad hasn’t filed a complete report.

  • Sad, infuriating, a terrible confirmation that no one’s lives matter when it comes to bullheaded agency management and politics in New York City. Someone, anyone could step up and provide some real leadership on matters like these. They won’t.

  • Joe R.

    The total, utter idiocy of the “NYPD sources” is astonishing. On what planet would wearing helmets matter when you’re crushed under a boat weighing several tons? Do these people have even a slight grasp of basic physics, like the kind you usually learn by middle school, if not sooner?

    Also, this wasn’t an “accident”. The boat had to have been improperly secured. The driver should be charged with manslaughter but I suspect at worst he’ll get off with a fine.

  • BBnet3000

    Such a load of victim-blaming bullshit that even the Daily News wasn’t buying it. That’s a new low for the NYPD.

  • mbradley27

    Am I missing something? The apparent driver’s negligence is the main cause of the trailer coming unhitched and killing one and seriously injuring another, so why isn’t he being held accountable? If it’s true that it was modified and he took shortcuts that jeopardized safety, he should be charged. It’s that simple.

  • Jonathan R

    Could this be one of those “professional courtesy” incidents, where the city employee driving the boat was not being accompanied by his or her spouse, but by another intimate friend?

  • Anyone in NYC who kills someone in some other way than running them over is a chump. You have so many different options for vehicular homicide, which is apparently perfectly legal so long as your victim doesn’t have a helmet on.

  • Enraged Dad

    This whether or not a victim was wearing a helmet reporting really needs to go. I mean what was the driver wearing, doing, how much had they eaten before they got behind the wheel. It is just as serious as calling incidents “accidents” versus “crashes”.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    NY State law requires trailers to have double safety hitches; if the Main hitch faiils a secondary hitch (usually a chain) prevents the trailer from killing someone.

    plus what are odds that the killer boater had been drinking ?

    what are odds that the killer exceeded 25 MPH speed limit ?

    Bratton is responsible for NYPD not holding the killer accountable

    negligent homicide

  • Zero Vision

    This is a horribly tragic event. Yet at the same time, it’s an almost comical example of the way in which one of Mayor de Blasio’s signature policies is relentlessly undermined by his own police department. Here you probably have a ton of evidence with which to secure some kind of criminal negligence charge, but the cops let the driver go home before the victim’s body was cold. They presumably helped him hitch up his boat again!

    And yet…

    Complete silence from Mayor Bill “I’m a Motorist” de Blasio. Shame on him.

  • JudenChino

    I wonder if he was reading about it during his daily drive from UES to Park Slope to use the gym. Seriously, what the fuck. Why not use a helicopter. Asphalt Green is really nice.

  • anothervoter1

    “The boat was propelled north, hitting Cioffi who became pinned under the vehicle as it stopped.”

    So genius NYPD investigators, if the poor woman was wearing a helmet she would be alive today?


  • Bobberooni

    Criminal prosecution or not, there will almost certainly be a civil lawsuit.

  • When the authorities refuse to do their jobs, it falls to everyday citizens to dispense justice. Our public officials have effectively legalized murder, as long as you look sorry and call it an “accident.” Remember that the next time you see Bratton on the street from behind the wheel of your car.

  • Go to dangerous trailers DOT org and wake up! No inspections and no safety standards for these crappy trailers

  • The trailer companies are going to try and cover up the truth

  • Inside edition pays for stories they inside edition contacted us and did not want to include the fact a cop and his wife was killed last year in Kansas and we told Mrs. DAIMON of inside edition that the ithrr families would not do the story if you did not include the cop

  • Larry Littlefield

    That’s three young women run down from behind on bicycles in the past few days. The first allegedly deserved to die because she was riding at night — home from her job to save money. The last two allegedly deserve what they got because they were riding without helmets not far from where another young woman was run down for being outside the crosswalk.

    I like to think of myself as a defensive driver, walker and cyclist, given all the idiots out there. But even I have to accept there is no way I could have avoid being run down from behind by a boat.

  • You want the truth. Inside edition had these numbers and we have the whole story idea to Laura Damond. They decided not to run the story. They needed more deaths ….. Since 1975 over 20,000 dead. Since 1988 over 750,000 injured since 1988 over 1,000, 000 cars, trailers and boats destroyed. We got the info congressman Cantor promised to help he did not so we helped get him fired. Congressman Dave Brat is trying to get us a meeting with NHTSA they keep telling him no….. We met with the NTSB over 3 years ago they did nothing. This young lady death along with all the others are blamed on Washington DC

  • Every hitch is using a defective safety chains they do mot work after 45 mph. 6 states have no safety chain law….. 12 states have no registrations and all 50 states have no inspection for these trailers one pound under 3,000 pounds in fact Henrico County VA does not enforce trailer safety just today a trailer had no safety chains

  • AlexWithAK

    The logic of the NYPD and most news outlets.

  • AlexWithAK

    It seems pretty clear from his feelings on pedestrian plazas that street safety issues are an annoyance to him that he’d rather not be bothered by. “Open up the roads and let the cars have at it, we have more important things to deal with!” Never mind that 250+ people a year are killed.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    I would suggest a harsher conclusion; Bratton is willfully encouraging needless killing of innocent New Yorkers

  • Justice for those who can afford it.

  • MatthewEH

    I think that news reporting outlets need to take some kind of pledge on their reporting of bike crashes that result in serious injury or death. Something along the lines of:

    “We, the [undersigned news reporting org], pledge not to comment on whether a cyclist injured or killed on our streets was wearing a helmet or not. Helmets are tested only for their efficacy in low-speed falls. In most cases they do not meaningfully mitigate the injuries a victim suffers in a high speed crash, or if a motorist or another cyclist crashes into them. Nonetheless, casual readers will not realize this, and will happily assign blame to the victim for their ‘carelessness’.

    “As such, we will only report ‘In cases like this, it is the policy of [our news organization] not to comment on whether the cyclist was wearing a helmet or not. This detail is simply not relevant to cases of gross bodily injury.'”

  • intergalacticSpartacus

    Are helmets designed to withstand being crushed by a runaway boat trailer? What a jerk for even mentioning this. And yet another reason why I have no desire to visit NYC. It seems every week I read of another fatal accident in which “no criminality was suspected”.

  • the_big_bandicoot

    WTF? The cyclists were being safe and legal, and were hit a modified, possibly illegally modified trailer. Would a foam bucket protect against a trailer?

  • JimthePE

    Sounds like a clear violation of the Due Care clause to me.

  • neroden

    Always carry rear-mounted rocket-propelled grenades to disintegrate the boat before it reaches you? (Joke.)

  • neroden

    If the NYPD prevents prosecution, for the umpteenth time, they are guilty of criminal conspiracy to commit homicide (conspiracy after the fact). It’s time the DAs realized that some cops are the biggest criminals in NYC. Electing a DA who vows to put corrupt cops in prison is probably the best thing which can be done.

  • Lori

    I saw the accident report on TV that nite and then didn’t hear anything else about it. Not even in the paper. I think the driver was either a cop or new somebody.


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