Hit-and-Run Driver Kills 45-Year-Old Man Crossing 21st Street in Astoria

A hit-and-run driver killed a 45-year-old man last night at this intersection in Astoria, where there is neither a crosswalk nor a traffic signal. Image: Google Maps
DOT rejected a road diet on 21st Street last year, citing high traffic volumes. Image: Google Maps

Update: The victim in this crash was identified as Sean Crume, age 45, according to NYPD.

A hit-and-run driver killed a man walking across 21st Street in Astoria last night.

The crash occurred just before 11 p.m. at the intersection of 21st Street and 30th Road, where there’s an unmarked crosswalk with no traffic signal. The driver continued for half a block with the victim on the hood of the car before slamming the brakes and fleeing the scene, leaving the man lying in the road, according to PIX 11.

Police arrived at the scene at 10:56 p.m. in response to a 911 call. The victim was found lying in the street severely injured and rushed to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A police spokesperson told Streetsblog that NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad believes the suspect was driving a “dark colored sedan” heading southbound on 21st Street. No arrests have been made.

Responding to pressure from local residents and elected officials, DOT made some meager safety improvements to 21st Street last year. The agency held off on a more substantial redesign of 21st Street that would have reduced the number of general traffic lanes, citing high traffic volumes. The street is a favorite cut-through route for drivers heading to the free Queensboro Bridge.

This crash occurred in the 114th Precinct, where two cyclists and two pedestrians were killed in 2015, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog. The speed limit on 21st Street is 25 miles per hour, though it is not signed. Officers in the 114th Precinct ticketed 774 drivers for speeding in 2015, or about two per day, according to NYPD summons data.

According to Vision Zero View, one pedestrian and one cyclist were injured at this intersection in 2015, and a pedestrian was killed in 2013 two blocks south of the crash location.

If you’d like to voice your concerns about street safety in Astoria directly to 114th Commanding Office Captain Peter Fortune, go to the next precinct community council meeting. Meetings are held on the fourth Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at Ricardo’s Restaurant, located at 21-04 24th Avenue.

Update: Local Council Member Costa Constantinides sent this statement:

This intersection has long been a danger in our community.  Since 2014, we have been speaking with DOT about traffic safety measures on this corner.  The lack of a traffic light here is exacerbated by the surroundings, including the Variety Boys & Girls Club where children attend programs and classes every day.  This fatality punctuates the great need for traffic safety measures at this intersection, one that our community has known for years.  I call on the DOT to conduct a traffic study and install a traffic light at this corner to prevent further tragedies like this one.  We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victim of this crime.

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