Truck Driver Kills Cyclist in Williamsburg, and NYPD Blames the Victim

The police account is reminiscent of previous fatal crashes where police mistakenly said the victim behaved erratically.

Photo: Philip Leff
Photo: Philip Leff

A tractor trailer driver struck and killed a 30-year-old man biking in Williamsburg around noon today, according to NYPD. Police did not release the names of the victim or the driver.

Initial NYPD reports blamed the victim for his own death. Police said he was biking eastbound on Metropolitan Avenue at Graham Avenue when he “lost control and fell from the bicycle” before the driver, also eastbound, struck him.

NYPD’s account is reminiscent of previous fatal crashes where police mistakenly blamed the victim. In June, police said Dan Hanegby “swerved” on his bike before a charter bus driver struck and killed him, but video footage obtained by Gothamist showed Hanegby moving predictably and the bus driver accelerating before running over him. Last year, police said cyclist James Gregg “collided into the rear tire” of the off-route tractor trailer that ran over and killed him on Sixth Avenue in Park Slope.

The victim of today’s crash was rushed to Woodhull Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The driver, 47, stayed on the scene and has not been charged, police said.

Motorists have now killed 27 cyclists on NYC streets this year, including the October attack on the West Side Greenway, compared to 18 fatalities in 2016.

Reader Philip Leff sent in a photo of the truck parked on Metropolitan Avenue on the block west of the intersection where NYPD said the collision occurred (top). The vehicle, registered to Ridgewood-based Brisita Truck Corp., appears to exceed the city’s 55-foot limit for truck length.

In the last two days alone, two people riding bikes have lost their lives in collisions with large trucks. And yet Mayor de Blasio has said nothing about how the city plans to reduce the risk posed by oversized vehicles, at the same time as his administration plans an enforcement blitz of e-bikes, which have not been implicated in any deaths.

The collision today occurred in the 90th Precinct and in the council district represented by Antonio Reynoso.

The last time a motorist killed someone biking in the 90th Precinct, officers responded by ticketing cyclists at the scene of the crash.

You can share your concerns about bike safety with the 90th Precinct’s community council when it meets next, on January 1 at 7:00 p.m. at the Lindsay Houses Community Center.

  • Vooch

    betcha the killer semi exceeded 53‘ and was therefore illegal

  • Isaac B

    This looks like the kind of trailer that carries trash to out-of-town landfills. Was the driver doing business on behalf of the city?

  • Is the mayor still doing friday call-ins on WNYC? Or did he put that on pause for the election

  • Ken Dodd

    Cyclists don’t just “lose control” under normal circumstances. Usually something causes them to lose control – for instance, a huge illegally sized truck passing too close.

  • Simon Phearson

    Yeah – I mean, it’s like the “wind force” that the NYPD blamed for yet another cyclist death. The people coming up with the apologies don’t seem to understand how bicycles work.

  • Joe R.

    I read that and I was thinking we’re not talking about a motorist. Motorists in this city are the only ones who suddenly “lose control”, particularly when then end result is a dead cyclist or pedestrian.

  • 1ifbyrain2ifbytrain
  • Exactly my first thought too. The notion that a 30 year old cyclist would just “lose control and fall” INTO a giant truck is so insane. It’s not impossible, if for example, he has a history of epilepsy or a medical condition that would make him black out, but then that’d be in a medical report. But I’m going to make the assumption that he doesn’t and the NYPD is lying here.

    I’ve never seen anyone just “lose control” of a bike. Either they hit a pothole, swerve to avoid something, get hit by a reckless driver or otherwise are reacting to something. It’s like saying you just lose control of your body while walking down the street. Sure, sometimes you can trip over a curb, but no one ever “loses control” and falls underneath the wheels of a car.

    There is so little scrutiny of the driver’s actions here.

  • Toddster

    They’re back

  • AMH

    Just to clarify a point: the city’s limit on overall truck length is 55 feet, which is why 53′ trailers are illegal.

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/sizewt.shtml

  • AMH

    Or how trucks work when they’re illegally too big, illegally off-route, illegally speeding and/or illegally passing too close. How fast does a truck have to be moving to generate “something like a wind force”?

  • Barry Grant

    From the Daily News article: “The biker tried to pass me on the right and he lost control and went under the truck,” he said. “By the time I saw him it was too late.”

    Absolute horseshit! Horseshit horseshit horseshit horseshit! If the NYPD are believing this bunch of baloney without question then we need to disband the whole department in its entirety and start afresh with people who can pass a basic intelligence test. Are we actually supposed to accept the idea that this cyclist overtook a large truck like this and just lost control, and that the driver, sat up in his cab, saw the whole thing. NO! We can see from the position of the truck in the photo that a cyclist would not attempt to pass a vehicle with such little room to maneuver. How many times do you overtake trucks like this on a bike?
    We’re also supposed to believe he was driving slow enough on this road for a bike to overtake him? This piece of shit saw a cyclist up ahead of him, was pissed at being slowed down, and decided to intimidate him by driving right up behind him. I bet he was honking his horn as well. This has happened to me on narrow streets countless times. Bus drivers, truck drivers…..they all do it. They think that if they get close enough so that they’re almost kissing your back wheel, you’ll capitulate and move over to the side. It’s time that every truck of this size was required by law to have both front and back cameras running at all times to expose the lies of these murdering bastards, and anyone caught without working cameras should be fined $10,000 and have their license taken away from them. Large trucks are such a danger to pedestrians and cyclists that they should be regulated to the point of suffocation.

    And no doubt the poor delivery guy’s family doesn’t have the $$$’s or resources to fight this outcome. Ideally, they should be going after the driver, the company he works for, and the NYPD. All 3 need to be bitch slapped over and over again until they learn that they can’t go on treating cyclists and pedestrians like garbage.

  • Alan

    Just had a similar truck edge into the bike lane without signalling on Navy Street today— the only reason I wasn’t run down is because I know these things are murder machines and made sure to stay behind it.

    When I shouted at the driver to “SIGNAL BEFORE CHANGING LANES ASSHOLE”, his piece-of-shit coworker started yelling “KILL HIM! KILL HIM!”

  • Joe R.

    Back when I was in college I rode on Route 27, which was a typical rural 2-lane road. Occasionally I was passed while riding on the shoulder by buses going as fast as 70 mph. Never once was the wind force enough to cause me to lose control. For that matter I recall watching Amtrak trains skip Princeton Junction on tracks 1 or 4 (i.e. those adjacent to the platform) while standing a few feet away. Even at 125 mph the wind force from the passing train didn’t cause anything but minor issues like relocating paper, snow, or leaves. “Wind force” is another BS excuse used by the NYPD to exonerate drivers.

  • Joe R.

    I avoid being to the right of trucks while they’re approaching intersections for the same reason. They’re big and often unpredictable. I don’t need to end up in a situation where I literally have no place to go.

  • AMH

    I rode a lot near high-speed (40-60mph) truck traffic growing up, and while I would get hit with a blast of wind and sometimes debris, I wouldn’t lose control either. I’m sure it could affect the less-confident more significantly, but that doesn’t exonerate a driver.

  • Barry Grant

    Being on the left often doesn’t give you any more of a chance. I was cycling down Broadway on the bike path a couple of weeks ago in the high 20’s when a truck pulled up right beside me, edged into the bike lane, and then made a sudden left turn right in front of me. I had to cycle up onto the sidewalk, almost hit a pedestrian, and almost came off my bike. Of course when I raced around the corner to find him stopped at a red light, and took the opportunity to yell at him, he opened his window and yelled threats and abuse. I’ve come to realize over the years that truck driving is a profession which attracts a disproportionate number of ignorant, coarse minded simpletons.

  • Alan

    I wasn’t before an intersection but over a block away— this guy was pulling to the curb across the bike lane without signalling.

  • Joe R.

    That’s even worse then when they do stuff like that far away from an intersection. It just adds to the unpredictability. When you call them out on it, you’ll often get a BS excuse like they couldn’t see you. Last I checked, when you’re driving a large vehicle with poor visibility, it’s incumbent on the driver to make absolutely sure the lane is clear before changing lanes.

    As a general rule I try to give large vehicles a wide berth. In practice that’s not always possible in situations where they might overtake you while simultaneously changing lanes.

  • NYLPI

    This indeed looks like a long-haul truck that exports trash from the many waste transfer stations in North Brooklyn. These transfer stations do not serve the city anymore, as the city constructed marine transfer facilities to cut down on exactly this sort of danger and pollution. However, the private waste haulers own these facilities and use them heavily for their own trucks. A bill (Intro 495) to cut down on the maximum permitted tonnage at these facilities in North Brooklyn was blocked in the city council yesterday after a Queens council member changed his vote after intense waste industry lobbying.

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