Hit-and-Run Dollar Van Driver Strikes Couple, Kills Man on Flatbush Avenue

Angel and Samantha Sagardia were struck by a commuter van while attempting to cross the wide expanse of Flatbush Avenue outside Kings Plaza Mall. Photo: Google Maps
A dollar van driver struck Angel and Samantha Sagardia, killing Angel, on this wide expanse of Flatbush Avenue outside Kings Plaza Shopping Center before fleeing. Photo: Google Maps

Drivers killed two pedestrians in separate crashes in Queens and Brooklyn on Friday and Saturday. In one case, police are still looking for the driver of a minibus who fled the scene after striking a couple, killing a man and critically injuring his wife.

[Update: The driver in this crash was identified as Jameson Golding. Golding was charged with two counts of felony leaving the scene and aggravated unlicensed operation, according to court records.]

At about 5:00 p.m. Friday afternoon, 47-year-old Angel Sagardia and his wife Samantha Sagardia, 50, were crossing Flatbush Avenue from west to east between Avenue U and Avenue V, near the Kings Plaza Shopping Center, when the driver of a Ford Omnibus dollar van struck them both.

Police believe an unlicensed man was driving the illegal commuter van above when he struck Angel and Samantha Sagardia. Photo: PIX
Police believe an unlicensed driver was behind the wheel of this minibus when he struck the Sagardias. Photo: WPIX

The couple was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where Angel passed away from severe head trauma. Samantha remains in critical condition.

Police located the vehicle on Saturday in East Flatbush near the corner of Rogers Avenue and Tilden Avenue, but the motorist — who WPIX reports is believed to be an unlicensed Haitian immigrant who was driving the dollar van illegally — remains at large. Witnesses told WCBS that the driver was speeding and did not stop after he struck the Sagardias, and motorists often drive above the speed limit on this section of Flatbush. NYPD says an investigation is ongoing.

In 2015, five pedestrians were injured on Flatbush Avenue at the intersections with Avenues U and V, according to Vision Zero View. Because it is such a dangerous location for pedestrians, Flatbush Avenue is a priority corridor and the crossing with Avenue U is a priority intersection in DOT’s Brooklyn Pedestrian Safety Acton Plan [PDF].

Friday’s fatal crash occurred in the 63rd Precinct, led by Captain Thomas W. Burke, which has given out 242 tickets for speeding through so far this year the end of July, according to NYPD data. The 63rd Precinct Community Council meets on the fourth Wednesday of every month at 8 p.m. in the Kings Plaza Mall Community Room.

It was the second fatal hit-and-run this year involving a commuter van, according to data compiled by Streetsblog, after 16-year-old Alexa Smith was killed in Rosedale in February.

Council Member Alan Maisel, who represents the area where the Sagardias were struck, said that illegal dollar vans have been “causing havoc” in his district for at least 15 years. “They speed, they throw trash out the window, they stop wherever they want to stop, block driveways, they urinate because they have no bathrooms that are accessible to them. They’re a menace,” he told Streetsblog this afternoon. “It’s a question of having the Taxi and Limousine Commission enforce the laws and, for whatever reason, the last two administrations have not taken [illegal dollar vans] as seriously as they should.”

A left-turning driver struck and killed 50-year-old Martin Smith at the intersection above. Photo: Google Maps
A left-turning driver, whose path is shown in red, struck and killed 50-year-old Martin Smith, whose path is shown in white, on Springfield Boulevard where it intersects Murdock Avenue. Photo: Google Maps

In Queens Village, a turning SUV driver struck and killed 50-year-old Martin Smith as he crossed Springfield Boulevard at Murdock Avenue at approximately 7:30 a.m. Sunday.

Smith was crossing from east to west “outside the marked crosswalk,” according to NYPD, when the driver behind the wheel of a 2014 Kia Sorento turned left from eastbound Murdock Avenue to northbound Springfield Boulevard and struck him. The driver stayed on the scene and no arrests have been made. NYPD says the investigation is ongoing.

Between 2013 and 2015, six pedestrians and one cyclist were injured at the intersection where Smith was killed, according to Vision Zero View. Left turns like the one that killed Smith are especially deadly, according to an analysis earlier this month from NYC DOT.

The crash occurred in the 105th Precinct, led by Commanding Officer Inspector Jeffrey Schiff, and in the City Council district represented by I. Daneek Miller. Through the end of July, officers of the 105th Precinct had issued 119 summonses this year for failure to yield to a pedestrian, according to NYPD data.

To voice your concerns about about traffic safety in the neighborhood to the 105th Precinct, attend its next community council meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, September 28th at 8 p.m. in the precinct house, located at 92-08 222nd Street.

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