Driver Who Killed Xiali Yue Pleads Guilty to Violating Victim’s Right of Way

Cropsey Avenue and 21st Avenue in Brooklyn, where Alexander Smotritsky killed Xiali Yue with a car. The white arrow indicates the path of the victim, and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver. Image: Google Maps
Cropsey Avenue and 21st Avenue in Brooklyn, where Alexander Smotritsky killed Xiali Yue with a car. The white arrow indicates the path of the victim, and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver. Image: Google Maps

A driver who struck and killed a woman in a Brooklyn crosswalk pled guilty to a Right of Way Law violation.

The crash happened at around 8:13 on the morning of March 16, 2015. Xiali Yue, 61, was crossing Cropsey Avenue at 21st Avenue in Bensonhurst, in a crosswalk with the walk signal, when Alexander Smotritsky hit her with a Ford compact as he turned right from 21st onto Cropsey, according to Patch and Daily News stories published shortly after the crash.

Smotritsky, then 39, was charged under Section 19-190, also known as the Right of Way Law, which is an unclassified misdemeanor. Police also charged him with careless driving, a traffic infraction.

The Right of Way Law took effect in August 2014. The crash that killed Yue was one of the early instances of NYPD applying the law to penalize a motorist for killing a person who was following traffic rules.

The Daily News used the prosecution of the driver who killed Yue — the paper’s editorial board said she was “fatally bowled over” — to criticize Section 19-190 as a “tool for changing driving habits that are generally tolerated.” Historically, sober drivers who killed people in New York City crosswalks could expect to receive no penalty at all, as long as they stayed at the scene and cooperated with police.

Section 19-190 carries a fine of up $250 and a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail. Court records say Smotritsky entered a guilty plea on April 19, and on April 29 was sentenced to a $200 fine.

  • com63

    It’s amazing that this type of thing is such a victory for streets safety compared to the status quo, but at the same time is really just a tiny slap on the wrist. A $200 fine for killing someone.

    I wonder if a conviction under this law gives the victim’s family more of an ability to collect civil penalties.

  • Elizabeth F

    Wow… $200 for killing a pedestrian in a crosswalk with a 2-ton hunk of steel, but $1000 for riding a bicycle with a 1/3HP electric motor.

    http://insideevs.com/riders-of-electric-bikes-hit-with-1000-fine-in-new-york-city/

  • BrandonWC

    It should make it easier to prove, in a civil suit, that the driver was negligent.

  • Bernard Finucane

    Why in god’s name they don’t have bulbouts at intersections like these is more than I can guess.

  • BBnet3000

    As the Commish turns down funding.

  • ahwr

    How many of those tickets have been given out? How many to people who weren’t riding mopeds on the sidewalk?

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

How Much Does DOT Use Daylighting to Reduce Dangerous Turns?

|
Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told the City Council there’s only so much DOT can do to prevent drivers from hitting people while turning, but there’s a relatively simple safety measure the agency could put to widespread use: keeping parked cars away from intersections. Last week, Kate Hinds at WNYC reported on the problem of motorists fatally striking people while turning left. According to crash data compiled […]

Seniors Are Not to Blame for NYC’s Failure to Make Streets Safer

|
In response to motorists fatally striking seniors in the Brooklyn South command, NYPD admonished seniors to be more careful when going outside. A recent fatality in the 70th Precinct is a prime example of how focusing on the behavior of victims is a wrongheaded and ineffective approach to street safety. One of the victims cited in last week’s DNAinfo […]