Victim-Blaming Commences After Bruckner Boulevard Claims Another Life

Was this driver adhering to the 25 miles per hour speed limit before fatally striking a pedestrian on Bruckner Boulevard?Does it matter to NYPD? Image: News 12
Was this driver adhering to the 25 miles per hour speed limit before fatally striking a pedestrian on Bruckner Boulevard? Does it matter to NYPD? Image: News 12

A motorist struck and killed a man last night on Bruckner Boulevard, a Bronx street designed to facilitate speeding and one of the borough’s most dangerous places to walk.

The victim was attempting to cross Bruckner near East 149th Street at around 12:30 a.m. Monday when he was hit by the driver of a BMW SUV. The impact was severe enough to cause major damage to the vehicle and, according to police, injure the driver and a passenger. Images show the SUV with a concave grille and hood and a hole in the windshield.

News 12 aired video of what happened immediately after impact:

Surveillance video of the accident appears to show the person hit being dragged several feet by the SUV. The vehicle smokes up, and a police car and other vehicles soon make their way over to the crash.

The victim was a 23-year-old man whose name had not been released by NYPD as of late this morning, pending family notification.

The speed limit on Bruckner Boulevard is 25 miles per hour. But the street, which runs below the Bruckner Expressway, is designed like a highway, with up to 10 lanes in some locations, counting service roads and turn lanes (see Google Maps embed below). With five deaths from 2012 to 2014, drivers killed more pedestrians on Bruckner Boulevard than on any other Bronx street except the Grand Concourse, according to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

DOT identified Bruckner Boulevard as a priority for safety fixes in the Vision Zero Bronx pedestrian safety action plan. “Bruckner Boulevard is a very wide, multi-lane boulevard,” DOT project manager Kimberly Rancourt told Bronx Community Board 2 last year. “It has lots of traffic but it also has excess space that isn’t needed for capacity.”

In 2015 DOT installed a protected bikeway on a segment of Bruckner north of last night’s crash scene, and south of this location, some safety improvements are in the pipeline for the intersection with 138th Street. DOT has said it intends to extend the bikeway south to create a seamless connection to the Randall’s Island Connector, but has not provided a timetable for that redesign.

The 41st Precinct, where last night’s crash occurred, tickets an average of around three speeding drivers per day. A Daily News photo shows a digital “SLOW DOWN” sign on Bruckner behind the BMW.

Despite heavy damage to the vehicle and the death and injuries caused by last night’s collision, the police spokesperson we talked with said there was nothing in the preliminary crash report to suggest investigators were considering the role of driver speed. News 12 reported that, according to police, “it appears there is no criminality on the driver’s part.”

Instead, NYPD and the media heaped blame on the deceased victim. Police told Gothamist and News 12 that the victim had stolen beer from a nearby deli and was running away when he was struck.

The Daily News said the victim “darted into the roadway” but did not question how fast the driver was going, or even acknowledge that a driver was involved in the crash.

Said WPIX reporter Rick Boone: “That driver stayed on the scene after this 23-year-old made contact with his vehicle. The contact was pretty massive.”

No news reports that we’ve seen mention street design or a lack of speed enforcement as factors in this deadly crash, just a victim allegedly running with some stolen beer. But refusing to see the real problems on Bruckner Boulevard will only lead to more deaths.

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