MTA Bus Drivers Killed Two People With the Right-of-Way This Week

The intersection where a turning MTA bus driver struck and killed 59-year-old Leila Enukasvili Sunday morning. Image via Google Maps

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.

  • Alex

    Thanks for writing this. The union was wrong to fight ROW the way they did, and this is the direct consequence and needs to be a huge loss for them.

  • Emmily_Litella

    Some buses have on-board cameras. Maybe the driver was busy trying to insert himself into a gap in on-coming traffic to make the left without checking the crosswalk first.

  • Larry Littlefield

    So after a few arrests there were no pedestrians killed. And after the union claimed the law was made inapplicable to them there were two.

    Correlation is not causality, and it is a small sample size, but still. I didn’t hear any announcement from the TWU telling the drivers to drive extra careful, like there was when they were protesting the law.

  • Bolwerk

    Dude, that controversy is so pre-Times Square boobs controversy. It’s probably all water under the bridge now.

    Well, the number of deaths is likely a fluke, but I’m sure they’re pleased they don’t have to worry about things like arrests and legal defense. Civil servants who day dangerous jobs with dangerous tools can never, ever be wrong!

  • Bolwerk


  • Bernard Finucane

    This is pretty bizarre. Kessel St. is a one way street with parking on both sides. As almost everywhere in America, the intersection looks like it was designed to kill pedestrians, with no bulbouts or pedestrian islands even though it is marked as a school crossing.

    But I wonder how the bus managed to speed up enough to kill the woman on a left turn into a narrow street like this. Probably the driver made a high speed large radius (that is corner cutting) turn.

  • R

    There was video obtained by a news station in the Carol Bell crash. There wasn’t here. That seems to have made all the difference in why one driver was charged and one was not n

  • chekpeds

    And the solution is right in front of us ! A simple Split phase signal has proven most effective in preventing this type of crashes. I will repeat this until I am blue in the face and there are not more senseless and preventable deaths by left turning bus .. Teh victims should sue the DOT… when will Letitia James push for her bill to install split phases signals at intersections where bus turn left on two way streets ..

  • Andrew

    Perhaps there is video here as well. Has the NYPD bothered to look for it?

  • ThereIveSaidIt

    I’m all for traffic improvements but let’s not forget the sheer savagery of some NYC drivers and their complete and utter contempt for road laws. This callous culture of recklessness is the direct result of the institutional failure to prosecute killer drivers which stems from the NYPD’s refusal to investigate road deaths as crimes and decades of the DA’s refusal to bring charges against these maniacs even when the evidence against them is overwhelming. If they treated gun homicides with the same lack of enthusiasm then the murder rate in NYC would be 10x what it is now. A big part of the problem is that most of these killer drivers are free to get back behind the wheel almost immediately, often within an hour of killing someone. These drivers habitually run red lights and stop signs and consistently fail to yield to pedestrians. They’ll probably ignore split signals too.

  • ThereIveSaidIt

    The only thing that got Carol Bell’s killer arrested was the fact that he left the scene. The NYPD refuse to prosecute the actual driving which leads to these deaths. Driving with an expired license, leaving the scene – THEN they’ll prosecute. Actually driving like a maniac and killing someone? They’ll let you off without so much as a slap on the wrist as long as you stay at the scene. Look at the little Chinese girl – they had the crime on video too, no charges because he stayed at the scene. Imagine if you could get away with shooting someone in cold blood as long as you stayed by the body until the police came. That’s the NYPD’s approach to road traffic deaths.

  • ThereIveSaidIt

    The city will always bend over backwards for unions like the TWU.


MTA Bus Driver Kills Anna Colon, 73, on the Lower East Side

An MTA bus driver killed a senior on the Lower East Side this morning. Anna Colon, 73, was crossing East Houston Street north to south at around 9:50 a.m. when the driver, who was also southbound, hit her while turning left from Avenue D onto East Houston, according to NYPD. “[The light] was about to turn red […]