Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Astoria

NYPD: No Charges for Driver Who Left Van in Gear, Killing Senior in Astoria

Image: NY1
Image: NY1
Image: NY1

Update: The Daily News identified the deceased victim as Arline Smeal.

A motorist killed one senior and severely injured another when the unattended van he was driving, left idling and in gear, backed across an Astoria intersection and onto the sidewalk. NYPD filed no charges.

The crash occurred at around 2 p.m. at Broadway and 32nd Street. After the driver, a 29-year-old man, exited the Ford van, "the vehicle began to roll backwards on 32nd Street and struck two pedestrians before colliding with a food cart,” according to NYPD.

The van hit an 80-year-old woman and a 71-year-old man -- who according to WNBC and the Daily News operated the food cart -- before crashing into the wall of a building.

Both victims were taken to the hospital in critical condition. The woman died from her injuries. Police have not released her name, pending family notification.

“The back left wheel and the front right wheel rolled over this old lady’s neck and then hit an older gentleman, knocked the souvlaki stand, and it was just devastating,” one witness told WCBS.

The van “pushed the food cart about 25 feet and clipped the owner in the back of the head and then rolled over his legs,” the News reported.

WPIX posted video of the van rolling through the intersection.

The circumstances of yesterday's crash are very similar to the crash the led to the adoption of the state's vulnerable user law. In 2009, a van left unattended by a commercial driver backed onto a sidewalk in Chinatown, killing toddlers Diego Martinez and Hayley Ng. The crash prompted state legislators to establish the offense of careless driving for cases where a driver injures or kills a pedestrian or cyclist while failing to use due care. NYPD has a poor record of enforcing the law.

As of this afternoon NYPD has filed no charges and issued no tickets for yesterday's crash. The department's public information office told Streetsblog the investigation is ongoing.

With reporting by David Meyer

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Brooklyn Civic Panel Can’t Agree How to Solve NYPD Sidewalk Parking

Move the illegal sidewalk parking or denounce it altogether?

April 17, 2024

Wednesday’s Headlines: Bike Lane Delay Edition

Remember the proposed sidewalk bike lane on Ocean Avenue? So do we. Plus other news in today's media digest.

April 17, 2024

Landmarks Officials OK Delivery Worker Hub Outside City Hall

The sleek new delivery hub and charging station will replace a 1980s-era newsstand that's sat empty since the pandemic.

April 17, 2024

Update: Driver Charged After Killing 10-Year-Old Girl Near South Williamsburg Playground

The 62-year-old driver struck and killed the youngster at the intersection of Wallabout Street and Wythe Avenue.

April 16, 2024

Car Crashes by City Workers Cost Taxpayers $180M in Payouts Last Year: Report

A record number of victims of crashes involving city employees in city-owned cars filed claims in fiscal year 2023 — and settlements with victims have jumped 23 percent, a new report shows.

April 16, 2024
See all posts