TLC: Driver Who Hit Children on Bronx Sidewalk Works for Uber [Updated]

Warning: Graphic video

Updates below

The livery cab driver who sped onto a sidewalk and injured a woman and several children this morning in the Bronx was driving a vehicle affiliated with an Uber base, according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

TLC spokesperson Allan Fromberg said the cab operates from Uber’s Schmecken hub. Fromberg said the driver has held a TLC for-hire vehicle license since 1998.

The driver’s name has been shielded by the TLC and NYPD. The Post reported that he is 57 years old.

Video of the crash, published by the Post, shows a group of kids standing next to a building at 229 E. Kingsbridge Road when the car, a Toyota Camry, enters the frame at high speed, running them over.

The driver told police he “lost control” of the cab, according to the Post. NYPD used the same language to describe the crash to Streetsblog this morning.

Three of the victims were a 33-year-old woman and her two kids. Two other children were also hurt. Injuries to the children included broken legs, head trauma, and chest trauma, the Post reported. FDNY said two of the children were hospitalized in critical condition.

Police had filed no charges or issued no summonses as of this afternoon. Unless the driver is convicted of a crime or traffic violation he will in all likelihood remain in good standing with the TLC.

Drivers working for Uber or driving Uber-affiliated vehicles have killed at least two New York City pedestrians this year, including a 12-year-old boy who was hit in a school zone. A lawsuit stemming from one of the crashes claims the driver was distracted by Uber software. Speed was reportedly a factor in both collisions.

We have a message in with Uber for further details on the driver and the crash.

Update: Uber says the driver was not using the company’s platform today and has been suspended from Uber pending an investigation. Like NYPD and TLC, Uber did not release the driver’s name. “Our thoughts are with the victims of this tragic accident and we are assisting the City with its investigation,” the company said in a statement.

Update: TLC says it has suspended the driver pending the outcome of the NYPD investigation.

  • Parent

    He lost control of the cab because he was going too goddamned fast. He should be in jail.

    Still no comment from Bill de Blasio, huh? How many kids would have to be run over at once for him to say something?

  • ohnonononono

    Yeah, makes no sense… if he were traveling below the legal speed limit this wouldn’t have happened. “Lost control” makes it sound like his car is some bucking bronco with a mind of its own. Illogical phrasing. He drove his car at a high speed onto a sidewalk and seriously injured children. Don’t remove his personal agency.

  • Mark Walker

    If the driver “lost control,” who did he lose it to? Who gained control of the cab? Did someone leap in through the window, shove the driver aside, and take control of the vehicle? If not, then the driver was the last person known to be in control of the multi-ton death machine — and therefore, by any reasonable standard, responsible for the carnage.

  • BBnet3000

    The beginning of that video is everything that is right about New York City. What follows is one of the things that is very wrong.

    Of course, look at the insane highways that they call streets at this dense urban location. What will be done about this? Very little. More buffer striping and some bulbouts.

  • AlexWithAK

    The worst part of this to me is that it literally happens on a regular basis and you rarely hear anything about it. This one might actually make the local TV news because of the horrifying video, but generally they couldn’t care less.

    And yet the media frenzy that ensues on the very rare occasion that a cyclist kills someone is unavoidable. You get constant coverage, debates, investigative reporting, and endless editorials on the danger of bikes. But kids being regularly run over by cars on the sidewalk barely gets a mention.

    It’s awful and yet what can we do? Bratton has made it clear that pedestrian safety is not a priority of his and it shines through all too brightly in the actions of the NYPD. District Attorneys either make excuses or flat out let deadly drivers off the hook. Mayor de Blasio pays lip service to Vision Zero but is “open” to removing pedestrian plazas and never says a word about inexcusable driver behavior like this.

    Decisive action on this is one of the few ways city leaders could tangibly save lives. But they fear the driving voters who would lash out against them for taking away their “rights”. These lost and broken lives are the price we pay for people being allowed to speed and drive like maniacs with impunity and, as a city, we’re OK with that. It’s truly disgusting.

  • ohnonononono

    I wrote this on the other post, but worth repeating: the highway-like underpass on Kingsbridge Road in front of this intersection was originally built to allow the trolleys to bypass the intersection with the Grand Concourse. Of course now that the trolleys are gone all that extra roadway has been ceded to cars and it’s really unnecessarily wide and over-engineered as if it’s a highway.

    A photo of a trolley on Kingsbridge Road passing under the GC, in simpler times: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/292030357057747275/

  • AlexWithAK

    And yet people will say “Well we don’t know the circumstances” or “It could happen to anyone” or “I bet the drivers feels terrible”. Or of course, everyone’s favorite, “It was just an accident.”

  • Joe R.

    Don’t forget the repeated calls for bike licensing/registration/insurance, in addition to the usual media frenzy, every time a bike kills someone.

    The part that gets me is you have to be going well above any reasonable speed to lose control of a motor vehicle in the first place, much less have it end up on a sidewalk. Hitting someone on a sidewalk then should be all the proof you need that the driver was either reckless or incompetent.

  • They already are. See NBC’s response to my tweet about it: https://twitter.com/Brynn4NY/status/649326434582941696

  • In a real Vision Zero city, this tragedy would prompt a major investigation not only by the police, but by the agency responsible for the design and maintenance of roads and sidewalks. Such an agency would look into the design factors that contributed to the speed of the car and the severity of the crash. It would then redesign those factors so that this kind of event didn’t happen again.

    Unfortunately, we do not live in a real Vision Zero city.

  • Joe R.

    There’s a few of those in the area. I remember the one on Bedford Park Boulevard back when I was going to Bronx Science:

    https://www.google.com/maps/@40.8712888,-73.8867829,3a,75y,319.6h,93.21t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sJO5J5Ue6HIQGkLXLf0g3ww!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1

    Not sure if a trolley ran on that one also.

  • To be clear: of all the elements of this that are infuriating, the least of them is Uber’s role in employing this particular driver. They certainly can do better than this, but why bother if this is already status-quo and completely approved by the TLC as it is? I refuse to cherry pick Uber for needing to be a responsible employer… they ALL need to be.

  • Translation: “Look, we’re not giving him a forum. We have no choice over where we point our cameras or microphones. What do you want from us? A reckless driving winding up using valuable airtime to offer his side of the story before an investigation takes place is just an accident. We have no control over our broadcast.”

  • ohnonononono

    Yes, after the trolley stopped running through 167th St’s GC underpass the bus kept using the trolley platforms and transfer to the subway until 1990 apparently: http://www.columbia.edu/~brennan/abandoned/167st.html

  • Joe R.

    Thanks—really interesting. Seeing stuff like this, I can’t help but think how much more civil the city was back in those days.

  • Brad Aaron

    If they all need to be, that includes Uber.

    As the story says, Uber drivers/cars have killed at least two people this year alone. One of those drivers was reinstated by Uber. Again: Their driver killed a person and they hired him back so they could continue to make money off him. There’s no reason to think this driver won’t be reinstated as well unless he is charged or summonsed and the TLC sanctions his FHV license.

    I agree that the problem is much bigger than Uber. That doesn’t absolve Uber of responsibility.

  • AlexWithAK

    Of course he was being reckless. It’s obvious to us. But so many people buy into this “accidents happen” nonsense. They blithely accept this kind of mayhem because they think it’s everyone’s right to drive however they please. And as long as the driver “didn’t mean it” it doesn’t matter how reckless they were being, they’re not culpable. This concept is so ingrained in American car culture that the laws are actually written around it.

  • It would be one thing if de Blasio hadn’t committed to Vision Zero. I could almost get my head around no one from City Hall speaking up since this happened this morning.

    But, come one, Mr. Mayor. *YOU* are the one who proposed Vision Zero. It’s your policy! No one expects a press conference every time someone is seriously injured or killed by a driver – because there’d be one nearly every other day – but when something this egregiously awful happens, perhaps it behooves the mayor’s office to at least issue a statement? This is an assault on our city’s most vulnerable citizens! These are kids who were doing nothing more significant than standing on the sidewalk! If ever there was a time to remind everybody about why Vision Zero is so important, it’s now.

  • We’re in full agreement – I don’t absolve Uber.

    I just want no one to introduce the fallacy that this was a unique situation brought on by the fact that it was Uber’s driver. Many of the medallion owners & livery companies put sketchy drivers on the road without hesitation. Uber’s business model, for all its disadvantages to the public interest, isn’t compromised above/beyond other TLC clients in this particular way.

  • AlexWithAK

    After the Times Square plaza debacle and the way Bratton worked de Blasio like a marionette while essentially declaring he does not give a damn about street safety, I’m just not that surprised. I really think it’s a mix of BdB limply pandering at first and then just being a weak leader.

  • Joe Enoch

    The most shocking thing about this video is that the victims are standing a good 20 feet from the road. It’s an unusually wide sidewalk– of all places shouldn’t people be safe 20 feet from traffic? This driver clearly was driving at an incredible speed for his momentum to carry the vehicle that far off the road.

  • Andrew

    The first and foremost responsibility of the operator of a motor vehicle is to maintain control of the vehicle. Anyone who cannot maintain control of a motor vehicle is incompetent to drive and should immediately have his or her driver’s license revoked permanently.

    This isn’t a matter of punishment; it’s simply a question of granting permission to drive only to those who are competent to do so.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    It’s impossible to lose control of a modern car going 25 or 30 MPH. At that speed you can give maximum inputs, full lock steering, slam on the brakes, and still not “lose control”. This clown was going 55 and looking at his Uber app.

  • Joe R.

    I noted that nobody on the sidewalk was apparently even aware of the vehicle, or taking evasive action, until about 1 second before impact. That includes people walking towards the direction the vehicle was coming from. Now if we assume pedestrians are typically aware of anything within maybe half a block or more of where they are, this means the vehicle covered that half a block in one second or less. This implies an average speed in excess of 80 mph. Since the impact speed was far less, the speed upon entering the sidewalk was probably even higher. I wish the vehicle’s data recorder had been looked at. Likely the driver was going in excess of 100 mph when he ran off the road.

  • WalkingNPR

    So disgusting. I’d like to know the actual incidence of brake malfunction. My guess is it’s much lower than the frequency of drivers who end up on sidewalks would suggest.

  • Joe R.

    Given the speed he was traveling, it had to be a case of combined brake and throttle malfunction if we want to go with the “defective vehicle” excuse. Or more likely, this was just a case of reckless driving.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    Looking at this intersection on Google Maps it’s almost inconceivable how this happened. The driver was coming down Valentine? And ran over the island in the middle of the intersection?

  • Joe Enoch

    He was likely speeding but 100 mph, or even 80 mph seems a tad aggressive — no one including the driver would walk away from an impact at that speed. The pedestrians are definitely caught off guard with reactions of a second or less, but is there anything unique about a speeding driver on NYC streets? It only became shocking to them when he mounted the curb a second before impact.

  • Joe R.

    The impact speed was obviously far less. Note that a modern vehicle traveling at 100 mph can scrub off most of that speed in half a block. Maybe I’m overestimating the speeds a bit, but I’d say 60+ mph is highly likely here. Modern cars don’t easily run off the street at speeds less than that.

  • Eric McClure

    IRONY: In viewing the video, I was just forced to watch a 30-second BMW pre-owned ad in which the guy parks his car on the empty roof of a multi-story parking garage because he’s afraid *his car* might get scratched.

  • devonbanks

    I too was forced to watch a 30-second BMW ad, of a mother driving home in her BMW while her mud-covered children follow her home in a taxi because her car is too important for her own kids (?)

  • BD

    It would be great if the taxi industry and Uber got into a safety record competition- I don’t see it happening.

  • Larry Fisher

    so the driver wasn’t on the Uber platform, according to Uber. Can we see evidence of that fact? My contention is that the overwhelming majority of these “Uber drivers” are not on the Uber platform but are doing illegal street hail and airport hustling. This way they don’t count towards the Uber contention that they are not the cause of the ridiculous congestion in Manhattan. This incident is just an example of our future where regulation goes out the window as Silicon Valley gets whatever they want.

  • Ari_F_S

    If I met the driver I might lose control of my fist.

  • The video right as the car comes into view shows the left front wheel askew as if the suspension was broken. That requires a fair head of steam to do that much damage. At least 40 closer to 50 MPH when he hit the curb.

  • Maggie

    Good God. What kind of city lets this happen, without filing instant charges for reckless driving? Come on, Mayor de Blasio. Please, please get this under control.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    this

  • nanter

    You don’t have to be going particularly fast, you just have to not be paying proper attention and then give a sudden steering input, maybe in response to something right in front of you that you should have seen had you been paying attention.

    Either way it’s a matter of recklessness: excessive speed and/or failure to pay full time and attention = same outcome

  • nanter

    Problem is that BdB just announced Vision Zero. He skipped the commitment part.

  • devonbanks

    This should be illegal.

  • ahwr

    http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Bronx-Pedestrians-Struck-Valentine-East-Kingsbridge-NY-Injuries-NYC-330076321.html

    There’s surveillance video that shows the car jump the curb. It looks like the brake lights don’t go on until after the car was on the sidewalk. Brake issues have led to recalls for some Toyotas the last few years. I think one of them was for a camry hybrid – is that what the cab is? If the driver hit the brakes would the brake lights not go on right away due to any known or suspected Toyota braking issues?

    I’d expect much more damage from a car going 60-100 mph. 85% of pedestrians die when hit at 40 mph? Maybe he was going closer to 30. The car was on the sidewalk for maybe thirty feet before hitting the people. If you look at streetview the curb is low and all beat up already. It wouldn’t slow the car down much.

  • datbeezy

    Dudes been a cabbie for 17 years, but gotta get that uber dig in there

  • qrt145

    Maybe I’m cynical, but the one thing that surprises me is that BdB hasn’t tried to take advantage of this incident in his fight against Uber.

  • Andrew

    Would he be able to do that without also implicating unsafe drivers in general, which he seems unwilling to do?

  • Joe R.

    Not sure if the brake lights here would be electrically tied to the pedal or the brake cylinders. The latter would make more sense so the brake lights would only come on when the brakes are actually working, but my understanding is the former is much more common: https://www.yourmechanic.com/services/brake-light-switch-replacement

    So anyway, yes, the brake lights might come on even if the car has no brakes.

    The real question though, besides the brake lights not coming on until after the car was on the sidewalk, is how did it end up on the sidewalk in the first place? Defective brakes aren’t going to cause that. Neither would a stuck throttle. The only thing which might is defective steering. Is this car drive by wire? And if so, have there been any documented steering failures? In the absence of a pattern of issues with this particular vehicle, I’d be more inclined to lean towards reckless, or perhaps just inattentive, driving.

    Also, maybe not applicable here, but drivers need to be trained that in the event their car “runs away” due to a stuck throttle, they should not steer it towards sidewalks. The instinct might be to do just that to avoid hitting the vehicle in front of you, but in the final analysis there’s less chance of causing death/injury by hitting another vehicle, as opposed to hitting unprotected pedestrians.

  • Jeffrey White

    The headline of this story misses the point so profoundly it’s just sad. Streetsblog continues its irrational vendetta against Uber.

  • Brad Aaron

    Thanks for stopping by.

  • Brad Aaron

    It was a detail we didn’t initially have. If publishing it in the context of other Uber carnage is a “dig,” so be it.

    Four kids mowed down a sidewalk, but gotta defend the company.

  • Joseph Cutrufo

    I had to watch the same one.

  • AlexWithAK

    Yeah, 100 is incredibly fast. In a Toyota Camry you’d need a LOT of open road to get up to that speed. The thing is, on city blocks a car going 45 appears like it’s going much faster because it is indeed traveling well out of scale with what is safe. So while 100 or even 80 is likely too high, 40 or 50 isn’t unlikely here.

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