Dump Truck Driver Pleads to Misdemeanor for Killing Woman Outside Javits Center

Carlos Torres hit Elise Lachowyn as he turned from W. 37th Street onto 11th Avenue. The truck was registered in New Jersey, making it exempt from New York’s crossover mirror requirement.

Carlos Torres struck and killed Elise Lachowyn on 11th Avenue at W. 37th Street in Manhattan. The white arrow indicates the approximate path of the victim and the red arrow the approximate path of the driver. Photo: Google Maps
Carlos Torres struck and killed Elise Lachowyn on 11th Avenue at W. 37th Street in Manhattan. The white arrow indicates the approximate path of the victim and the red arrow the approximate path of the driver. Photo: Google Maps

A truck driver who killed a woman in a Midtown crosswalk last year has pled guilty to violating the victim’s right of way.

Elise Lachowyn
Elise Lachowyn

Carlos Torres, of Brooklyn, hit Elise Lachowyn with a dump truck as he made a right turn from W. 37th Street onto 11th Avenue, outside the Javits Center, at around 10:00 in the morning on February 12, 2016.

Lachowyn, a 48-year-old Colorado businesswoman in town for a toy convention at Javits, died at the scene.

Torres was operating a truck with New Jersey plates, and was traveling in the direction of the New Jersey-bound Lincoln Tunnel entrance just north of the crash site.

Torres, then 51, was charged with a misdemeanor under the city’s Right of Way Law, as well as failure to exercise due care, which is a traffic infraction. On Wednesday he pled guilty to both charges, according to court records.

A photo published by the Daily News indicates the truck Torres was driving did not have front-mounted convex “crossover” mirrors. Even when they’re owned by companies that do business in NYC, trucks registered outside New York are exempt from state law that requires the mirrors, which give drivers a better view of the road directly in front of them. Closing the loophole in the law has not been a priority for legislators in Albany or Washington.

The Department of Motor Vehicles revoked Torres’s license after the crash. In New York State, a person whose license is revoked may apply to have his driving privileges restored after a prescribed period of time.

In addition to the license penalty, Torres was sentenced to a fine of $750 plus $88 in fees.

  • JarekFA

    I remember from Torts in law school that it was “negligence per se” if you violated a law/rule in which the law/rule was in place to protect someone/something and such violation indeed resulted in harm to that protected someone/something. As such, a rebuttable presumption of you were negligent in that act is established.

    So, to my mind, you violate the right of way and by so doing you kill the person. the right of way is there to protect the other party from harm. So if you kill someone directly resulting from your negligent conduct, how the fuck is that not negligent homicide subject to a serious but not overly onerous sentence of like 3 to 5 years for taking someone’s life because of your failure to exercise due care while operating a dangerous vehicle. Like WTF!

    I know resident bike lawyer Steve Vacarro has stated previously that you need to be “grossly negligent,” but that seems so fucked up. You have to be like drunk and speeding 30 mph over to get the real punishment? But just driving with your head up your ass gets you a fine in an amount that’s less than 25% the cost of this lady’s funeral.

  • Brad Aaron

    And:
    • It took years and years to even make it a punishable offense.
    • NYPD still only enforces the law in a fraction of applicable cases.

  • walks bikes drives

    Probably closer to a tenth the cost. The only positive side of the whole thing is it makes the civil case much easier, which is where her family/estate is going to receive some restitution. But the civil penalties, which no doubt will be paid out by insurance companise, will not deter future instances. We need criminal penalties with teeth in addition to the civil penalties.

  • SteveVaccaro

    The civil penalties are not paid by the insurer, but by the driver.

  • walks bikes drives

    I guess I didn’t mean to use the word penalties as this implies a fine. I was referring to the payout by the liability insurance during a wrongful death suit. The one that could hurt the perpetrator, but doesn’t really.

  • JarekFA

    Does “no fault insurance” and/or recovery caps work to limit how much the victim/estate can recover?

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