FDNY Ambulance Driver Kills Gen Zhan, 81, in East Village Crosswalk

An FDNY ambulance driver turning left fatally struck Gen Zhan as he crossed E. 14th Street at Second Avenue. The white arrow represents Zhan’s path, and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver. Image: Google Maps
An FDNY ambulance driver turning left fatally struck Gen Zhan as he crossed E. 14th Street at Second Avenue. The white arrow represents Zhan’s path, and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver. Image: Google Maps

An FDNY ambulance driver struck and killed a senior in the East Village yesterday.

The crash happened at around 1:20 Monday afternoon. Gen Zhan, 81, was in the crosswalk on 14th Street at Second Avenue, walking south to north, when the driver, who was southbound on Second, hit him while turning left onto 14th, according to NYPD.

Photos and video of the scene show the ambulance sitting in the crosswalk on 14th Street, on the east side of the intersection.

Zhan, who lived in Kips Bay, was transported in critical condition and died at Bellevue Hospital, DNAinfo reported.

The driver was identified only as a 22-year-old man who, according to the Daily News, had been on the job “less than a year.”

The News said the driver was responding to a “non-priority call” and was not using lights and sirens. NYPD had no information on who had the right of way. Police had issued no summonses and filed no charges as of this afternoon. An NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog the Collision Investigation Squad is still working the case.

Gen Zhan was killed in the 9th Precinct, and in the City Council district represented by Rosie Mendez.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Emergency vehicles racing around and making erratic moves without any lights or sirens is a big problem here. I’ve been cut off and saw someone else on a bike cut off by the NYPD making a left turn against the light on Pike Street at Madison just in the past week.

    Whatever happened with the Ryo Oyamada case anyway?

  • BrandonWC

    Discovery is proceeding on wrongful death case against officer and city in federal court in Brooklyn. There is a settlement conference on September 22.

  • com63

    This is a split phase signal with the turning phase coming after the walking phase. Unless the ambulance jumped the gun and ran the red arrow, the pedestrian likely had a solid no walk sign. Another possibility is the ambulance turning left from the straight lanes, against the light. Neither of these things of course are an excuse for hitting someone in a crosswalk.

  • Pat

    Well at least he activated his lights afterward.

  • Vooch

    another tragic reason to transom 14th street for pedestrians

  • is it a permissive phase or an exclusive phase ? Is the walking phase protected by a red arrow for cars?

  • com63

    Yes, the entire walking phase is protected by a red arrow. The protected bike lane on 2nd ave is between the left turn lane and the cross walk as well. The PBL has a green bicycle light that turns to red at the same time the walk signal becomes a solid don’t walk hand.

    This intersection is about as good as it gets in terms of Vision Zero treatments. Countdown clocks, protected bike lane, split phase turn signal.

  • thanks- sad…

  • Bernard Finucane

    Notice that the car turning left in the picture is in the left lane of the street it is turning onto.

    A pedestrian refuge like this would have prevented this tragedy. Sorry to keep repeating myself. This is not rocket science, it is standard practice in places where human life counts for something.

  • Bernard Finucane

    It’s instructive to compare this with an intersection in Hanover, the capital of Lower Saxony.

    The pedestrian refuges poke ten yards into the intersection beyond the stop lines of the cars.

    Hanover may not be on your list of places you must see before you die, but at least it won’t kill you when you get there.

  • c2check

    It seems to me ped refuge islands do a lot to slow and channelize turns.
    It’s a shame they’re not as well-used in the US, and that NYC DOT is even removing one for a parade.

  • JL

    I live in the UWS and Columbus Ave intersects w72nd exactly like this. Southbound (left lane turning) vehicles will often cut the corner sharp especially if they catch a green (main southbound is steady green when red left arrow turns to green) carrying speed. Usually when a person crosses a 4 lane 2 way EW street on foot, you’re safe when you get to the north side of the crosswalk from turning vehicles. Most drivers will turn like the Ambulance in the picture/video taking out a big piece of the south AND north crosswalk. On a bike westbound, I don’t do the cyclist stop/wait pass the crosswalk and check out traffic and not be in the way, because that space is the bullseye and sitting duck at the same time.

    It’s a shame the elderly who are less nimble often fall victim to careless driving. Doubled when the careless driver is suppose to help people.

  • Joe R.

    This probably just shows trying to mechanize safety with traffic signals, dedicated phases, turn lanes, signs, markings, and so forth really doesn’t work all that well. A motorist’s attention ends up concentrated on what the traffic signal is doing instead of what’s directly in front of them. And people are really bad at reliably following scripts, which is why trying to script for safety this way ends up an exercise in futility. People just don’t do what they’re “supposed to do” in situations like this. As a result, the system fails spectacularly.

    Part of the problem here is it’s just too f-ing crowded. NYC needs to start getting the least space efficient user, namely private automobiles, off the streets in places like this. After that, get rid of the markings, traffic controls, and so forth. Let users figure it out for themselves. It’s worked elsewhere. All these stupid blinking lights are doing is wasting energy and money.

    That said, pedestrian refuges at an intersection like this would be a great idea. They would enforce a bit of order on the turns, and would give people a safe place to wait if they were only able to cross half the street.

  • AMH

    Speeding turns, especially by NYPD, FDNY, etc are a huge problem. I’m constantly swiveling my head around while crossing because you never know where the idiot who kills you is going to come from. A large crowd of us were nearly hit by an NYPD car driving down the wrong side of 125 St (no lights, siren or emergency of course). My greatest fear is that one day I’ll be talking to someone or thinking about something else instead of looking over my shoulder and BOOM…

  • ad astra

    A livery cabdriver did that to me last night, actually swooping around another turning car that was waiting for pedestrians to cross. Fortunately, I was looking over my shoulder so I saw him coming. I slowed down and stared at him. He screeched to a halt, looked annoyed, and honked.

  • Tom Taylor

    To copy what I posted on my facebook page: This is ridiculous (to say the least), one article I just read, concerning my grandfather-in-law’s tragic death, stated the following: “However, she (emergency responder) said he had tried to run across the street, but didn’t make it and was hit while on the crosswalk.
    An 81 year old man, trying to run across the street. “What the …?!?!?” He’s 81 years old. Trying to run across the street; c’mon. Yea, I can hear the “Chariots of Fire” theme song in the background and can see my grandfather (in slow motion, of course) sprinting across 14th street, with his arms in full swing, trying to beat traffic.
    Plus, what’s even more messed up, if you were there at that moment and you looked at 2nd Ave, you would see the cars going southbound, crossing 14th st. If you didn’t know or forgot about this new left green arrow, you would think that it’s still ok to cross the street since no cars are moving on 2nd Ave. Perhaps no one pressed the walking signal and it stayed in the “Don’t Walk” position through the whole cycle.
    Also, one would think, if a driver (and especially an ambulance driver without its warning lights and sirens on) is making a turn, either left or right, and there is someone walking in the crosswalk (and I repeat, IN THE CROSSWALK, where people are supposed to cross (if this was in the middle of the street, it would be different)),, I would think the person would slow down and honk their horn (isn’t that what horns are for), to let the person know.
    The ambulance was responding to a “non-emergency call,” giving it an excuse to not have it’s lights on. Then why the hell was the driver acting and driving as if it was an emergency???

  • neroden

    Sigh. The appropriate settlement is “the guilty officer will be imprisoned for a term of years”. It is actually legally possible to have this as a civil penalty, but judges aren’t used to it…


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