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Citing “Medical Episode,” NYPD Declines to Charge Livery Driver in Lower Manhattan Crash That Injured 4 Bystanders

If the TLC driver who caused this crash has a medical condition that affects his ability to drive, the public needs to know if he’s still operating a cab. Image via WNBC

A livery driver caused a crash that injured multiple people in Lower Manhattan yesterday but was not charged.

According to city data, another cab involved in the crash is connected to a string of dangerous driving offenses, though the Taxi and Limousine Commission has yet to confirm that the same driver committed all the infractions.

Thursday afternoon the driver of a Lincoln sedan struck a second TLC-plated vehicle, a Ford SUV, at Broadway and Liberty Street, pushing the SUV into a cyclist. The Lincoln driver then took off down Liberty, leaving a block-long trail of carnage and destruction before striking a third vehicle and coming to a stop on the sidewalk.

“There was a big bang and then screams,” a witness told the Daily News. “He hit the car on Broadway and kept on going. The people were on the ground injured.”

Three pedestrians were struck, in addition to the person on the bike. Both drivers were also reportedly hurt. NYPD told Streetsblog none of the victims were "likely to die."

Reports said the driver of the Lincoln was arrested. He was identified only as a 68-year-old man.

“After the accident, police said the crash was an act of road rage,” the News reported, “but late Thursday night, cops backed away from theory and said the Town Car driver suffered a medical episode.”

If the driver did in fact experience medical problems that precipitated the crash, was he aware of his condition? If so, did he report it to the Department of Motor Vehicles and the TLC? Was he taking any required medications? These are some of the questions crash investigators should have asked, but the public doesn't know what evidence police considered before declining to file charges.

Even with Vision Zero laws on the books that were intended to get reckless cab drivers off the streets, unless the driver who caused Thursday's crash is convicted of a violation or crime, he will remain in good standing with the TLC.

Meanwhile, the city's open data portal shows a number of traffic violations committed by the driver or drivers of the Ford SUV, which according to the TLC is affiliated with the Uber base Drinnen. Here are the most patently dangerous offenses:

    • June 2016: Failure to stop at a red light, Brooklyn
    • June 2016: Bus lane violation, Manhattan
    • November 2016: Speeding in a school zone, Brooklyn
    • December 2016: Speeding in a school zone, Bronx
    • February 2017: Bike lane violation, Manhattan
    • April 2017: Failure to stop at a red light, Brooklyn
    • June 2017: Failure to stop at a red light, Queens
    • July 2017: Speeding in a school zone, Queens
    • September 2017: Speeding in a school zone, Bronx

The data was brought to our attention by Streetsblog reader Jeff Novich, who is developing an app to facilitate public documentation and reporting of dangerous driving. (Here's a Medium post that details what Jeff is doing and how you can get involved.)

Streetsblog asked the TLC and Uber about the Ford SUV and who operates it. If a single driver racked up all those offenses himself, New Yorkers deserve to know why he's still driving a cab.

Update: According to Uber, the Ford SUV involved in this crash is operated by more than one driver.

Update: The Daily News identified the cab driver who caused the Liberty Street crash as Gil Villamar. Streetsblog has asked the TLC if the agency has determined whether Villamar had a "medical episode," as claimed, and if his presumed medical condition affects his ability to safely operate a cab.

Correction: This post originally misidentified the Lincoln involved in this crash as the vehicle connected to multiple traffic offenses. The copy and headline were edited after publication.

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