MTA Bus Drivers Killed Two People With the Right-of-Way This Week
An MTA bus driver making a left turn struck and killed a woman crossing a Queens street Sunday morning. The victim, Leila Enukasvili, 59, was in the crosswalk and likely had the right of way at the time she was struck, based on available information.
The investigation is ongoing and charges have not been filed “as of yet,” according to NYPD’s public information office (DCPI). (Another NYPD spokesperson, however, told Gothamist, “Pursuant to the investigation, there were no charges applied to the driver.”)
The driver of a Q23 bus turning left from northbound 71st Avenue to westbound Kessel Street struck Enukasvili as she crossed Kessel from north to south, said DCPI. When officers from the 112th Precinct responded to the scene at 7:40 a.m., Enukasvili was lying on the ground with head trauma. She died later that day at Jamaica Hospital.
Enukasvili was the first of two women struck and killed by turning MTA bus drivers in the span of three days. On Tuesday, Paul Roper drove an out-of-service bus into 70-year-old Carol Bell in an unmarked crosswalk, killing her, and left the scene. Roper is facing a felony hit-and-run charge, as well as charges for careless driving and failure to yield.
In 2014, eight MTA bus drivers hit and killed pedestrians with the right-of-way. Some of these collisions led to misdemeanor charges under the city’s new Right of Way Law, sparking a campaign by TWU Local 100 to exempt bus drivers. While the TWU was agitating against the law by telling bus drivers to wait until crosswalks were clear before proceeding with turns, no one in New York City lost their life to an MTA bus operator who failed to yield.
In September, City Hall reached an agreement with TWU over the Right of Way Law. The text of the settlement clarified the law’s intent without changing it, but the union took it to mean that its drivers had been wrongly charged in the past.
The two fatal failure-to-yield crashes this week involving MTA bus drivers were the first of 2015 and the first since the settlement. So far, only the driver who fled the scene is facing any consequences for taking someone’s life.