Trucker Who Killed Woman Admits Negligence, NYPD Still Blames Victim

Footage from the scene shows Floria Burton walking around a stopped truck blocking an unmarked crosswalk before the driver accelerated and ran her over. Still via Daily News

Update: The Daily News identified the Queens hit-and-run victim as Agalia Gounaris, 84, of Flushing. Police said the bus was located in Connecticut, en route to a casino, and that by that time evidence was lost due to rain. The driver was being questioned, the News reported.

Motorists took the lives of two people walking yesterday, bringing to eight the number of pedestrians killed by New York City drivers in the last week.

Floria Burton, 55, known locally as “Ms. Pat,” was pushing a laundry cart across Seneca Avenue at Bryant Avenue in Hunts Point at around 8:30 a.m. Thursday when a dump truck driver ran her over.

There are no traffic signals at Seneca and Bryant avenues. Video published by the Daily News shows Burton approach the corner and pause before walking around the front of the truck, which appears to be blocking an unmarked crosswalk. When she is directly in front of the truck, the driver accelerates into her.

Floria Burton. Photo via Daily News
Floria Burton. Photo via Daily News

Burton’s friend Maritza DeJesus, who saw what happened, spoke with the News:

“He backed up and went over her again,” she said. Burton was alive, but fading fast, DeJesus said, tears streaming down her face.

“I was talking to her. I was saying, ‘Pat, hold on! Pat, hold on! Pat, hold on!’ When she looked at me she didn’t even recognize me. She was already gone.”

Despite video evidence indicating otherwise, unnamed police sources gave the impression that an oblivious Burton stepped into the driver’s path as the truck approached. In a story with the headline “Woman talking on cell phone killed by dump truck,” the Post reported that Burton was “chatting on her cell phone when she was struck.”

“Witnesses said she was on the phone and did not see the truck coming when she was hit, according to police,” reported DNAinfo, which posted video that clearly indicates Burton was hit as she tried to walk around the stopped truck.

It is not clear from the video if Burton was talking on a phone, but she wasn’t holding one to her head. Meanwhile, NYPD filed no charges despite the driver’s admission that he wasn’t paying attention when he hit Burton. From the DNAinfo story:

The 44-year-old truck driver stayed on the scene after the accident, and although he said he was distracted and looking off to the right while driving, officers do not suspect criminality at this point, and it is unlikely that he will be arrested, police said.

Twelve hours after Burton was killed, an unidentified woman was hit by several drivers at Main Street and Kissena Boulevard in Flushing.

DNAinfo reported that the driver of a Skyliner tour bus struck the woman and did not stop. Witnesses said other motorists ran the victim over as she laid in the street.

“I saw the body in the street. She was on her side. She was laying there and a couple cars were running her over,” [said] Edward Fauntleroy, 50.

“At least five cars hit her. It was ridiculous. You can’t tell me none of the other cars saw that body. It’s Main Street, not some alley,” he added.

The victim died at the scene. No arrests had been made as of this afternoon, NYPD told Streetsblog, and police had not determined the victim’s identity.

New York City motorists have killed at least eight pedestrians in the last seven days. MTA bus drivers killed two people who were walking with the right of way this week. The driver of an SUV killed 72-Year-Old Mitchel Darroux in East Flatbush last Sunday. A motorist killed a child, her grandfather, and another man on a Bronx sidewalk on Halloween.

  • dave “paco” abraham

    Really hoping DeBlasio & ALL of his agency heads (Bratton, Trottenberg, Joshi, etc) speak out against this slew of traffic violence and admit they have not done nearly enough to make Vision Zero anything more than a bumper sticker so far.

    That aside, who are these NYPD officer constantly blaming the victim? Did they refuse to give their names or can this and future articles further identity them so advocates can have a conversation with the correct people whether its at the precinct level or the CIS level or whatever.

  • J

    People continue to die, the NYPD continues to blame the victims, and De Blasio says and does nothing. How will this get us to Vision Zero?

  • Zero Vision

    “You can be part of the solution of making our streets safer. You have to be alert when you walk the busy streets of New York.” – Polly Trottenberg

  • Sid

    What about a negligence or involuntary manslaughter charge? There must be something that the NYPD can charge the driver with.

  • Joe R.

    Looks more like outright murder to me. The initial impact may have been involuntary manslaughter, but then the driver backs up over her, presumably to make sure she’s dead so there’s only one side to the story.

  • Matthias

    Being an alert pedestrian will not save anyone’s life but your own, and not necessarily even your own.

  • D’BlahZero

    A wrongful death civil suite could costs a defendant less than a personal injury/disability case.

  • Joe R.

    Exactly. In fact, that’s why I read in China drivers will make sure anyone they hit is dead rather than injured:

  • What do Polly Trottenberg and Bill Bratton have in common? Many things, maybe, but most crucially they both still have the full backing of their boss, motorist-in-chief and murder apologist Bill de Blasio.

    The families devastated by this week’s carnage have only our mayor to thank for their loss. The streets of our city run red with the blood of innocents, innocents killed by Bill de Blasio’s fecklessness as surely as if he were behind the wheel of each murder weapon himself.

  • Zero Vision

    Tell that to the DOT commissioner.

  • J
  • J

    Yep, gotta watch out for curb-jumping cars and trucks, which apparently do so legally, at least according to De Blasio’s NYPD. DOT could install bollards, but they don’t, because… money?

  • PI by Nature

    Wasn’t reducing the speed limit to 25 mph (in Brooklyn, every street in a populated area has been reduced to 25 mph or will be except for the wide section of Linden Boulevard, which will be reduced to 30 mph) supposed to curtail this?

  • snobum

    This is sickening. All drivers should be forced to watch that video. I feel drivers (including myself several years ago) don’t understand exactly the harm they can cause.

  • walks bikes drives

    It has curtailed some, as traffic deaths are down, to my knowledge. However, not all fatalities are caused by speed, but speed is a factor in most. Further, just dropping the limit does not mean that drivers will actually obey the limit. That’s like saying by making murder a crime, shouldn’t that stop all murders?

  • MatthewEH

    Having watched the video, I don’t think Burton had right of way here. It’s sickening that she got hit again by the trucker flipping into reverse: that’s really the disgusting part.

    Anyway, the truck was in motion through the unmarked crosswalk by the time she approached the curb, then paused mid-intersection. She went around front of it just as the trucker started rolling forward again, in a spot where the trucker is unlikely or maybe completely unable to see her from the driver’s side of the cab. (Maybe with crossover mirrors the driver would have had a shot; I can’t see if they’re there or not.)

    But from the driver’s point of view, he’s in an intersection, already starting to make a right-hand turn, when someone on an effectively invisible path steps right into a damned surprising part of his intended path. For this part, I have a hard time holding the driver to blame.

  • Trottenberg and Bratton have nothing in common.

    Let us remember that de Blasio made insightful comments during his campaign about warning his black son about police violence, an experience that is shared by all parents of black sons. This act made him hated by these perpetrators of terror against black men and boys.  After he was elected, de Blasio, in an effort to appease this unaccountable band of murderous thugs, abdicated his responsibility to oversee Bratton, and effectively ceded to him control of the city.

    By contrast, Trottenberg is an empty shell, a cypher.  She has absolutely no authority, and was put in place to do nothing in a post which de Blasio considers to be unimportant.

    There is no similarity whatsoever between these two appointees. Bratton is a dangerous monster whom de Blasio allows to run wild. Trottenberg is a nonentity, for all intents and purposes a fictional character.

  • Walter Crunch

    TIme to bring a RICO investigation against the NYPD for their part in allowing deaths of citizens. Also, their direct participation in deaths of citizens.

  • Andrew

    I don’t see the truck turning right in the video. Where do you see that?

    What I see is a truck stopping midway through the intersection, obstructing a crosswalk. I then see a pedestrian, who presumably had wanted to use that crosswalk, instead walking around the truck to cross the street.

    I then see the truck proceeding further, its driver apparently unaware that, if you’re blocking a crosswalk, you leave pedestrians little choice but to walk around your vehicle outside of the crosswalk, and that it’s kind of important to make absolutely certain before moving that none are crossing in front of your vehicle.

  • MatthewEH

    The truck isn’t turning. Yes, sorry to state otherwise. I thought I saw its wheels cut to the right, but on re-viewing that wasn’t the case.

    I still see why a driver would be caught unawares here.

  • Matthias

    I witnessed a terrifyingly similar close call on the way home from work the other day. An SUV was blocking the crosswalk, a woman began to walk around (in front) of it and the driver accelerated. She jumped back with a shriek just in the nick of time and the driver shouted “Fuck you!”. He’ll suffer no consequences.


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