No Charges or Tickets for Driver Who Ran Red, Killed Woman on Sidewalk

A driver ran a red light yesterday evening, crashing her SUV into another car, mounting the sidewalk and striking three people at a bus stop in Richmond Hill, Queens. Meena Mahabir, 52, was killed. Her 2-year-old niece was critically injured, and the toddler’s mother was also hospitalized. The driver does not face any charges and has not received any traffic tickets after the crash, NYPD said this afternoon.

This driver, being aided by EMTs, does not face any charges or traffic tickets after running a red and killing a woman on the sidewalk. Image: WCBS
NYPD has not issued so much as a traffic ticket to the woman who ran a red and killed a woman on a Queens sidewalk yesterday. Image: WCBS

Just before 6 p.m. yesterday, police say, the unidentified 43-year-old driver ran a red light at 108th Street while driving west on Atlantic Avenue in her white Mitsubishi SUV. In the intersection, she collided with a northbound Kia driven by a 23-year-old woman. Then the Mitsubishi driver crashed into three people at a bus stop.

Mahabir was pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital. She was at the bus stop with her two-year-old niece, who was critically injured, and the girl’s mother, 48, who is in stable condition. Both drivers were also taken to Jamaica Hospital in stable condition.

Mahabir lived a block away from where she was killed, according to police. Witnesses say she tried to save her niece by throwing her out of harm’s way. “She screamed,” witness Miriam Sierra told WABC. “Saved the baby’s life, yeah she really did.”

“The older woman had tire marks, a lot of cuts and marks,” witness Norman Alsaivi told WNBC.

A police sergeant and officer happened to be at the scene when the crash occurred, WABC said, and police are now looking at surveillance video from nearby businesses. NYPD says the investigation is ongoing.

WABC closed its report from the scene with a shot of one of the intersection’s traffic signals, located in the median. “You can see that it’s sort of off-kilter. It’s somewhat at a diagonal,” ABC’s Josh Einiger says in the segment. “The driver told investigators that she did not see the red light and DOT [is] right now looking into whether that light may have played a role. She also said she was looking into sun glare from the setting sun.”

Other drivers had no trouble seeing the intersection’s multiple red signals. “I was at the red light for two seconds and [the car] passed me so it was definitely a red light,” witness Norman Alsaidi told WABC.

Atlantic Avenue is one of the city’s most dangerous streets. So far, the city’s efforts to cut speeding and reduce fatalities have focused on sections of Atlantic west of where yesterday’s crash occurred. Atlantic was the first street in the city’s 25 mph Arterial Slow Zone program, but the slow zone does not reach east of 76th Street. DOT also unveiled an uninspiring “Great Streets” plan to make minor tweaks to Atlantic, but both phases of the project cover areas west of Rockaway Boulevard.

Last April, 54-year-old Oscar Pauzhi was killed trying to cross Atlantic Avenue at 107th Street, a block away from the scene of yesterday’s fatality. Eight people, all motor vehicle occupants, have been injured at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and 108th Street through the end of August this year, according to DOT’s Vision Zero View map.

The intersection is located within Community Board 9 and on the border of City Council districts represented by Eric Ulrich and Ruben Wills. The crash occurred within the 102nd Precinct, which has issued 357 citations for red-light running and 361 citations for speeding through the end of August this year [PDF].

To voice your concerns about traffic safety to Deputy Inspector Deodat Urprasad, commanding officer of the 102nd Precinct, attend its next community council meeting, scheduled for October 20 at 7:00 p.m. at Richmond Hill Library, 118-14 Hillside Avenue.

  • Matty1245

    oh yes….the “setting sun” – the motorists get out of jail free card.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Driver said

    I recklessly drove through a crowded intersection even though Inwas blinded by the sun plus I was driving significantly above the speed limit

  • AlexWithAK

    I noted this elsewhere today, but my theory on how this happens over and over and over in this city is that NYPD officers actually feel bad for the drivers that kill. They believe that living with having inadvertently taken a life is punishment enough, no matter how reckless the behavior that lead to that death. And so they don’t even bother to write a 100% justifiable traffic ticket on the scene, let alone charge the driver with anything more serious.

    It’s also worth noting you can be charged with a misdemeanor for hitting a pedestrian with a bicycle on the sidewalk, but not with your car. How’s that for justice?

  • D’BlahZero

    Every other card in the deck seems to be a variation of ‘get out of jail free’ when you drive. Glare. Accelerator malfunction. Mistook gas for the brake. Medical event. I didn’t see her. She came out of nowhere. And on, and on, and on. Pretty much anything but, “I’ve been drinking” and you’re in the clear.

    It’s incredible disturbing that this person is probably driving around NYC today. And that guy in SI who killed someone with his boat, he’s probably out fishing. No big whoop.

  • The proverbial “sun was in my eyes.” The driver who hit and injured my wife and daughter in Brooklyn this summer said the same thing.

  • AlexWithAK

    Oh but I’m sure they feel just terrible about it (as they go about their daily lives, not in a hospital or making funeral arrangements for a loved one) and isn’t that punishment enough (no).

  • Alexander Vucelic

    As long as NYPD has a driving culture, they always will side with the driver. The moment NYPD beat cops start actually walking a beat, they’ll protect pedestrians and charge drivers.

    Bratton Bears responsiblity for the attitude of his 38,000 employees

  • Alexander Vucelic

    imagine ty victims can not even recover a cent of medical costs from the killer driver’s insurance

  • nanter

    If you can’t see the light, you have to slow down and/or stop until you *can* see the light. What makes these people think that if they can’t see, they may as well just keep going and hope for the best?! Jesus.

  • AlexWithAK

    And I guess this woman missed the day in grade school when they taught context clues. “Gee, other cars are stopped, I’ll just keep going at full speed.”

  • JudenChino

    Fuck the law. This should be 2 to 5 years. You run a red light then you should bear the consequences. If you choose to have too much to drink, then get behind the wheel, and injure/kill someone, you go to jail. You choose to try to “beat” the light or proceed to drive at a fast pace, even though, you cannot see through the sun, and a crash occurs because of such actions leading to serious injury or death, then you should go to jail.

    It just sickens me that BdB can claim Vision Zero then not give a flying fuck that a woman was killed sitting at a bus stop while the person who ran the light gets off scot-free. WTF. Should the woman at the bus stop not been on her phone [victim blaming]. Was she not in the middle of the x-walk but just outside of it, thus fair game.

  • JudenChino

    Yup, windshield perspective. They identify with the car driver. “Shit, that could’ve been me driving,” more than they do with the victim, thus, victim blaming all day and ridiculous empathy for the driver: “Solar glare,” really?

  • JudenChino

    Sucks. Was the driver ever held accountable? I presume not.

  • r

    Any statement from the mayor’s office on this one?

  • Merkin Muffly

    The pedestrian had the unfortunate luck of not being Caucasian. That stuff matters when police decide to press charges.

  • Bernard Finucane

    As my mother used to say, it’s time to burn down city hall.

  • Bernard Finucane

    It seems to me that there are two possibilities in this case. Either the driver is liable, of the DOT is liable, because the intersection was unsafe.

    I doubt all that matters anyway. The larger question is, what political consequences will there be?

  • vnm

    Not even a ticket??? This is insane! The driver RAN A RED LIGHT. That’s enough for a ticket right there.

  • Pat

    Good thing she had a grille guard. It makes mowing down pedestrians easier on your car.

    It really is a jungle out there.

  • AlexWithAK

    This is why I get ragey every time someone complains about how cyclists run red lights “all the time” but seem to think no driver does. Some journalist even wrote as much in an article and later recanted when numerous people sent him evidence that that’s bogus.

    All you need to do is watch pretty much any intersection in the city, especially a busy one, and you’ll see many cars running reds. The walk signal can be on completely and someone will still “sneak” through the yellow that already went red several seconds before. And don’t even get me started on private garbage trucks. They do it constantly. I called one out on it when they did it on my block. The response, a predictable “fuck you”. That attitude is what we’re dealing with and the NYPD shares it.

  • Joe R.

    One night when I was riding on Union Turnpike at 5 AM or so I saw a NY Post delivery truck blowing light after light. Not yellows or stale reds, but lights which were steady red for a while. Now I’ll grant that nobody was there, and I’ll also grant that I was doing exactly the same thing on my bike, except I was slowing to ~10 mph and looking carefully, he was zooming through them at upwards of 20 mph (don’t know if he even bothered to look for cross traffic). My takeaway on this was how utterly appropriate. The trashy tabloid which has done more to hurt safe streets is actually contributing to their “cause” by example. Steve Cuozzo would have been proud of this driver!

  • JudenChino

    Initial reports indicate that the fallen pedestrian, Ms. Meena Mahabir, was not wearing a helmet at the moment of impact.

  • JudenChino

    Because of “no-fault” insurance laws?

  • Alexander Vucelic

    make a great virial video wouldn’t it

  • No safety vest either. Shameful behaviour, reckless really. Think of the poor driver.

  • Fortunately the larger question is easy to answer: none….as usual.

  • armyvet00

    If she could not see the red light, how exactly did she determine it was green instead?

    I might believe her story if she stopped when it was green, and justified the stop based on not being able to see the green light…..

    Why can’t we have laws, police, and prosecutors that enforce laws in a manner that says to people “if you can’t see the light/road/crosswalk drive slow enough to stop or else you will be held responsible for the injury/death/destruction”.

  • armyvet00

    DOT might be 25% liable but ponder this- if the light was not fully visible (despite others seeing it as a red light) how did she see a green light that gave her permission to drive though the intersection? If she could not see red, she also would not see green, and if that was the case she should have slowed or stopped, not blasted through the intersection under an assumption that it was green.

  • armyvet00

    So sorry to hear this. It boils my blood to see people 1) drive too fast to stop when they in fact can’t see due to sun or 2) lie to cover up their crime. As a driver and a pedestrian I know that sun is no reason to drive into someone too fast to stop.

  • Rabi

    While I totally agree that people of color don’t receive the same protections under the law as white folks, NYPD doesn’t press charges in cases like this regardless of the victim’s skin color.

  • Matt

    Exactly. “Oh the sun was in my eyes. So the only logical thing for me to do was to continue accelerating my 5 ton hunk of metal and plastic in whatever direction it felt like going.”

    Car’s. Don’t. Drive. Themselves.

  • Bernard Finucane

    Interesting point. In Germany every intersection has a redundant set of signs that deal with the case that the signals are out. They are the same as the signs at intersection without signals, but are ignored if the signals are working. In this street view the red triangle means yield, but drivers ignore it because the signal is working.

    https://www.google.de/maps/@50.1317045,8.6861215,3a,16y,262.91h,88.12t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1seyffk752EOGTj5jWmVCEvw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1

    In this case however, the yellow diamond says you have the right of way, so you could argue you ran the light because didn’t see it and assumed it was broken so you assumed you had the right of way, as indicated by the sign.

    https://www.google.de/maps/@50.1312893,8.6855513,3a,23.5y,124.71h,89.84t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sAV-YTFukmdtxShjpRB-UWw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1

    But in NYC this doesn’t exist, so you should stop and look if you can’t see the light.

  • djx

    Seems like NYPD is a great criminal defense law firm for drivers that kill, not a law enforcement agency.

  • neroden

    More of a co-conspirator with drivers that kill.

    I’m not kidding; a DA who really wanted to could convict NYPD of conspiracy after the fact. It’s that gross.

  • neroden

    Ban squad cars. Not sure how else to do it.

  • neroden

    Yes, I’m sure they feel just terrible about it as they speed through red lights and run down pedestrians elsewhere in the city.

    It’s a documented fact that reckless driving has a HIGH rate of recidivism. It’s the same people all the time. Someone runs a red light, drives on the sidewalk, runs over a pedestrian once, they are almost certain to do it again.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    it’s difficult, even NYPD beat officers who supposedly walking a nieghborhood cling to their cars as if it’s a teddy bear.

    Christ – they are so obsessed with driving they even use a specialized motor vehicle to walk 1,000′ and sit on the Brooklyn Bridge Pedestrian/Bike path. The culture is so ingrained that they don’t realize what the hundreds of thousands of people walking the bridge surely are thinking when they walk past the Obese NYPD leaning on their mini-cars blocking the path.

    changing that type of corporate culture would take a generation of heroic effort. there are no Heros in NYPD leadership, just a bunch of apparatnicks counting the days until they retire

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