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Hit-and-Run Driver Who Killed Greenway Cyclist Gets 1 to 4 Years

11:19 AM EST on March 10, 2017

October 2016 Google Maps image of the Hudson River Greenway at Chambers Street, with Olga Cook’s ghost bike background right. DOT has made changes since this photo was taken, but TA says more needs to be done to prevent more deaths and injuries.

The hit-and-run driver who killed cyclist Olga Cook on the Hudson River Greenway is going to jail.

On the evening of June 11, 2016, Samuel Silva hit Cook with a Ford pickup truck as he turned right from West Street onto Chambers Street. Cook, 30, was knocked to the ground and sustained fatal head and body trauma.

Olga Cook
Olga Cook

Silva did not stop to summon help or render aid. He was tracked down a few minutes later, after a witness showed a photo of his New Jersey license plate to an off-duty MTA police officer, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance's office.

“At the time of Silva’s arrest, police observed that he had been under the influence of alcohol,” Vance’s office said in a statement.

Silva was initially charged with manslaughter, drunk driving, and felony leaving the scene, court records said. He pled guilty to a top charge of leaving the scene, a class D felony; criminally negligent homicide, a class E felony; and driving under the influence of alcohol, a traffic infraction.

Silva was sentenced Wednesday to one and one-third to four years in state prison. His license was suspended for 90 days.

“Fleeing the scene of a crash is not only illegal; it’s an act of cowardice,” said Vance. “Samuel Silva’s negligence killed a woman -- a newlywed and a triathlete -- in the prime of her life, and gravely endangered countless other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.”

Chambers Street is one of several locations where poor design creates conflicts between greenway users and motorists. DOT made some changes to the intersection after Cook was killed, adding crosswalk markings and a signal phase for turning drivers, but declined to implement additional safety measures recommended by Transportation Alternatives.

“High visibility crosswalks and signal changes are not enough,” TA Executive Director Paul White told Downtown Express. “To prevent further loss of life, the DOT must also install safety islands in the crosswalk to prevent motorists from making fast sweeping turns, and elevate the crosswalk so that the greenway continues at an elevated grade through the crosswalk, creating a speed table. These two measures should be made standard wherever a class one bike facility intersects with a roadway.”

Cook’s husband is suing the city and the state “for failing to remedy the dangerous intersection,” according to the Post.

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