Tonight: DOT Workshop on Atlantic Ave Segment Where Driver Killed Senior

Atlantic Avenue at Grant Avenue, when a driver killed 70-year-old Helen Marszalek. The nearest crosswalks are a block in either direction. Image: Google Maps
Atlantic Avenue at Grant Avenue, where a driver killed 70-year-old Helen Marszalek yesterday. There are no crosswalks at the intersection. Image: Google Maps

Yesterday a motorist killed a senior who was trying to cross Atlantic Avenue at an intersection that has no crosswalks. Tonight DOT will host a public workshop to solicit input on a safer design for Atlantic between Georgia Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard, which includes the site of Monday’s collision.

Helen Marszalek, 70, was walking across Atlantic at Grant Avenue at around 1:30 in the afternoon when she was struck by the driver of a BMW sedan in the westbound lanes. Marszalek, who lived nearby, died at Brookdale University Hospital, DNAinfo reported.

Helen Marszalek. Photo via Daily News
Helen Marszalek. Photo via Daily News

The crash occurred on a segment of Atlantic that the de Blasio administration has singled out for improvements as part of the Vision Zero Great Streets program, which concentrates on four of the city’s most dangerous streets for walking: Atlantic Avenue, Queens Boulevard, Grand Concourse, and Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue.

Atlantic Avenue at the site of the crash is six lanes with a center median. Last summer DOT unveiled plans to redesign medians and add vehicle turn bays between Pennsylvania Avenue and Conduit Avenue, to the west, where the crash rate is higher than on 90 percent of Brooklyn streets. Phase two of the project would focus on Atlantic between Conduit Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard, encompassing the intersection where Marszalek was killed.

Based on phase one plans [PDF], DOT does not intend to reduce the number of car lanes or add bike lanes on Atlantic Avenue, though such design elements are known to reduce injuries and deaths. For phase one, DOT has proposed raising the median, turning it into a barrier that will discourage people from crossing where there are no crosswalks.

Video from the scene of yesterday’s crash showed the BMW with a dented hood and extensive damage to the windshield, indicating a high-speed collision. “I heard the boom,” said witness John Montes, the Post reported. “I ran over, and the woman … wasn’t moving.”

Damage to the vehicle that hit Marszalek was extensive, a sign of a high-speed collision. NYPD did not ticket or charge the driver. Image: News 12
Damage to the vehicle that hit Marszalek was extensive, a sign of a high-speed collision. NYPD did not ticket or charge the driver, whose name was not released. Image: News 12

“She rolled over the side of the windshield and over the car. Her head hit the sidewalk,” Montes told the Daily News. “She was face down. Her head was split open.”

As usual, media reports centered on the victim’s actions, with no information on how fast the driver was going or how he or she failed to avoid striking a 70-year-old woman on a city street in broad daylight.

NYPD said the driver had not been summonsed or charged as of this afternoon. When I asked about the driver’s speed, a police spokesperson said, “We wouldn’t report that. That’s part of the investigation.”

Helen Marszalek was killed in the 75th Precinct — where local officers issue an average of between one and two speeding tickets a day — in Community Board District 5, and in the City Council district represented by Rafael Espinal.

Tonight’s workshop starts at 5:30 p.m. at Cypress Hills Community School, 265 Warwick Street. More details here. DOT is also accepting public input online.

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