Motorist Kills Kayshawn Whitick, 13, on 5th Avenue in Harlem, and NYPD Blames the Child
Drivers have killed at least 20 children age 14 and under since the 2014 launch of the city’s Vision Zero initiative.
A 13-year-old boy hit by a motorist in Harlem last week has died from his injuries. NYPD filed no charges and blamed the child in the media.
Traffic crashes consistently rank as the leading cause of injury-related death of children in NYC. Drivers have killed at least 20 kids age 14 and under since the 2014 launch of the city’s Vision Zero street safety program, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog.
Kayshawn Whitick was struck by a 42-year-old woman driving a Jeep as he crossed E. 135th Street at Fifth Avenue at around 4 p.m. last Wednesday, August 16. He sustained severe head trauma and died the next day.
According to NYPD, the driver, whose identity was withheld, was eastbound on E. 135th and Whitick was crossing north to south, on the east side of Fifth. NYPD told the press the victim ran into the driver’s path and was not in the crosswalk, and said the driver “had a green light.”
Police did not say how fast the woman who hit Whitick was driving, and downplayed her role in the collision. “The driver had already entered the intersection when Whitick ran into the street and did not stop in time to avoid hitting him,” unnamed NYPD sources told Patch. NYPD often accepts the driver’s version of events in cases where a crash victim is no longer alive to speak for himself.
Family members told DNAinfo Whitick was with his twin brother at the time of the crash, and that he was running away from another motorist who believed Kayshawn had thrown a bottle at his car.
“The driver got out of the car and started chasing after Kayshawn,” his aunt, Crystal Whitick, said. “By Kayshawn being so scared, he ran into the street to get away from the guy.”
The NYPD didn’t have any information on whether Whitick was being pursued when he was hit.
“Kayshawn was very talented,” the victim’s aunt said. “He was good at art. He was good at basketball. He was a good dancer. He was going to high school in September. Now he’s not gonna make it there.”
Where they intersect, Fifth Avenue and 135th Street are wide streets that lack bike lanes and other traffic-calming features, despite the close proximity to an elementary school and its playground. Motorists have injured 22 people walking at Fifth and 135th since 2009, according to city crash data. Fifty-six motor vehicle occupants were injured in crashes at the intersection during that time frame — an indication of drivers frequently colliding at high speeds. A motorist killed another person walking at Fifth and 135th in 2016.
“It’s a very dangerous corner, and it shouldn’t be,” Whitick’s grandmother, Diane Samuel, told DNAinfo. “They should have speed bumps. They should have lights.”
Samuel said she will push officials for traffic-calming measures at the intersection where her grandson was killed. “I don’t want him to die in vain,” she said.