Greenway Attack Victims Not Included in City Hall’s October Crash Data Report

City Hall reported five pedestrians and one cyclist fatally struck by drivers last month. DOT said the eight people killed deliberately on the greenway are not on the Vision Zero map because deaths resulting from a “likely terrorist attack” are not counted as traffic fatalities.

Hilda Arocho, Abu Rifat, and Dennis Gandarilla
Hilda Arocho, Abu Rifat, and Dennis Gandarilla

Twelve people died in New York City traffic in October, and 4,748 were injured, according to City Hall’s Vision Zero View crash data map.

City Hall reported 104 pedestrians and cyclists killed by city motorists through October, and 11,759 injured, compared to 128 deaths and 12,701 injuries in the first 10 months of 2016.

Six motor vehicle occupants died in the city in October, according to City Hall, and 3,434 were injured.

City Hall’s numbers do not include the victims of the October 31 greenway vehicle attack that killed eight people and injured 11. A DOT spokesperson told Streetsblog that deaths resulting from a “likely terrorist attack” are not counted as traffic fatalities.

It’s debatable whether traffic fatality and injury data should be influenced by homicidal intent. Deliberate murder is different from the type of recklessness and negligence Vision Zero sets out to prevent. But there certainly were steps the city and state failed to take before the greenway attack that could have made it less harmful.

A cursory check of the Vision Zero map showed that earlier incidents that were reported as intentional killings and resulted in murder charges against a driver were not reported by City Hall.

City Hall reported five pedestrians and one cyclist fatally struck by drivers last month. Among the victims were Hilda Arocho, Abu Rifat, Dennis Gandarilla, and an unnamed male pedestrian in the Bronx.

The victims killed in the greenway attack were Nicholas Cleves, Darren Drake, Anne Laurie Decadt, Diego Angelini, Ariel Erlij, Hernán Ferruchi, Hernán Mendoza, and Alejandro Pagnucco.

Motorists killed at least two seniors in October: Hilda Arocho, 82; and the unnamed Bronx pedestrian, who was 69.

Greenway attack victims, clockwise from top left: Hernán Ferrucci, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij, Hernán Mendoza, Nicholas Cleves, Darren Drake, Anne Laurie Decadt, and Diego Angelini
Greenway attack victims, clockwise from top left: Hernán Ferrucci, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij, Hernán Mendoza, Nicholas Cleves, Darren Drake, Anne Laurie Decadt, and Diego Angelini

Across the city, 925 pedestrians and 389 cyclists were reported hurt in collisions with motor vehicles. Per NYPD policy that has not changed since the 2014 launch of the Vision Zero program, few of these crashes were investigated by trained officers.

Of five fatal crashes on surface streets reported by Streetsblog and other outlets, not counting the greenway attack, no motorists were known to have been charged for causing a death. After two fatal crashes, NYPD blamed the victims in the press while police investigations purportedly remained open.

A semi truck driver killed Abu Rifat as he biked near the Upper West Side intersection where Mayor de Blasio later announced a police crackdown on people who ride electric bikes. Though available information suggests Rifat was sideswiped while riding with the right of way, NYPD told the media Rifat “struck the side” of the truck. No charges were filed by NYPD or Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

Dennis Gandarilla was killed by a motorist who fled the scene and was not immediately caught or identified. The majority of hit-and-run drivers who strike people in NYC are not held accountable in any way.

The driver who killed the greenway victims was charged with murder and other crimes in federal court.

Historically, nearly half of motorists who kill a New York City pedestrian or cyclist do not receive so much as a citation for careless driving.

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