Driver Strikes and Kills Phil O’Reilly on Union Turnpike — NYPD Files No Charges

Union Turnpike is a high-speed street bordering the St. John's University Queens campus where O'Reilly was struck. Image: Google Street View
Union Turnpike is a high-speed street bordering the St. John's University Queens campus where O'Reilly was struck. Image: Google Street View

On Tuesday night, a driver struck and killed Phil O’Reilly on Union Turnpike at 175th Street in Hillcrest. O’Reilly led rides with the Five Borough Bike Club and remembrances have been pouring in on social media.

O’Reilly was walking across Union Turnpike after watching a St. John’s University basketball game at Carnesecca Arena, slightly before 11 p.m., when he was struck. A westbound driver hit him on the far side of the intersection, inflicting head injuries, according to NYPD’s public information office.

Police filed no charges and said the motorist had a green light. NYPD did not provide information on the driver’s speed at the time of the collision, or whether the driver’s phone had been analyzed for evidence of distraction.

Department policy is to not release the name of a driver involved in a fatal collision unless charges are filed. In many cases, NYPD bases its account of the crash solely on the driver’s version of events, which is later disproven by video, eyewitnesses, or other evidence.

The design of Union Turnpike lends itself to dangerous speeding. It’s a divided four lane road with turn lanes at intersections.

Two people were injured in traffic crashes at the intersection of Union Turnpike and 175th Street last year, and eight were injured at the nearby intersection of Union and Utopia Parkway, according to Vision Zero View. The street has not been identified as a priority for design improvements by the city, however.

The crash happened in the 107th Precinct and in the City Council district represented by Rory Lancman. You can speak up about traffic safety issues in the area at the precinct community council, which meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month at 71-01 Parsons Boulevard.

  • MasonEagle

    Yet another reason why we need speed cameras at busy intersections and why Marty Golden is such a low down piece of pond scum for opposing them. It’s gotten to the point now where we can pretty much go ahead and presume that the NYPD’s statements in these things are not based upon solid evidence and that they don’t even care for such evidence. So let’s just concede that cops are not capable and unwilling to do the jobs they’re paid to do, and replace them where we can with intelligent technology.

  • KeNYC2030

    This is horrible. Among other things, Phil was a hilarious guy. He could crack you up with just a look. I always loved being on a ride with him. Now he’s dead due to street design, at the very least

  • JarekFA

    Is the speed limit 25mph there?

  • Peter Engel

    I am just too angry and disgusted for words. Phil was a friend. I was his 5BBT co-captain on the QB Bridge for 4 years. Like everyone, he always made me laugh in the most inappropriate way but he had a great heart. I loved spending time around him.

    I’m angry because the NYPD are doing their usual “no criminality suspected” BS. I want to fight back. Like all these tragedies, Phil’s death shouldn’t be business-as-usual.

  • Peter Engel

    CORRECTION: “O’Reilly
    was walking across Union Turnpike after playing basketball.” Half
    correct – Phil wasn’t playing basketball. He had just finished attending a St. John’s University
    basketball game.

  • thanks for the correction. post amended.

  • Joe R.

    Yes, the speed limit is 25 mph. Believe it or not, during much of the day traffic actually does move at or not much above the speed limit. This isn’t because drivers are saints. Union Turnpike has fairly narrow lanes. That and traffic volumes during much of the day conspire to limit speeds. I can actually take the traffic lane on Union Turnpike during the day without worrying about getting mowed down from behind. I just use the vehicle in front to help break my wind, and maybe pace at 25 or 30 mph.

    Late nights, like when this incident occurred, are another story. Traffic is practically nonexistent that time of day (one of the reasons I like to ride late nights). As a result, speeds of 40 or 50 mph are typical, although you’ll sometimes see people driving much faster. Once I saw a Corvette doing what was easily 100 mph, for example. Scared the crap out of me. Something similar might have happened here. Maybe Phil was indeed crossing against the light, thought an oncoming vehicle was going normal speeds for that time of night, then couldn’t get out of the way once he realized it was going much faster. Or perhaps he had the green and the driver ran a red. No way of knowing with only one side of the story. St. John’s should put up surveillance cameras so we can at least see what actually happened when things like this occur.

  • tecnocato

    Is this in the state that will fine you and confiscate your pedal-assisted bike but will not do a proper investigation on a collision that resukted in the death of a pedestrian because “the light was green” as deckared by the driver? Wow. My condolences to the family and God help us all if the light happens to change while crossing on front a distracted driver. With 2 hands on the wheels and 2 eyes on the road people do not appear by magic.

  • MasonEagle

    Contact the Daily News and the NY Post and ask them to pursue the story.

  • joyauto

    Cops will not charge killer drivers because the State doesn’t want to discourage crashing. Crashes are good! They generate a lot of business, which in turn creates a vast amount of tax revenue. See, it’s always about the money. Read my book: “What you don’t know about driving can get you killed!” (

  • Eric McClure

    I didn’t know Phil, but I’m terribly sorry to hear about his death. The idea that someone who logged so many miles on a bicycle on New York City streets would carelessly get himself run over crossing against a light is preposterous to everyone but the NYPD. This is just one more case of a killer motorist being allowed to drive away due to police indifference.

  • Conscience_of_a_conservative

    i grew up in queens. seems clear the borough has become a far more dangerous place to ride than it was in decades past.

  • neroden

    It has gotten to the point where you can assume that the NYPD are lying.

    Shut it down. Get rid of the NYPD entirely. There’s no point in having dishonest, corrupt police.


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