The Death of Kevin Flores Is a Complete and Total Failure of Our Vehicle Regulation System
The driver who killed Flores, 13, lacked a valid license, but the oil truck company operating out of his Suffolk County home is in good standing with U.S. DOT.
On Friday, Philip Monfoletto drove an oil tanker over Kevin Flores, 13, who was riding his bike on Lewis Avenue in Bed-Stuy, ending the child’s life.
The fatal crash was a failure of both street design and a vehicle regulation system that allowed Monfoletto to operate an incredibly dangerous machine without the proper credentials.
Monfoletto lacked a valid license to operate the truck, according to police. But the company that owns the vehicle, M & M Oil, is in good standing with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. M & M is an owner-operated company with a single vehicle, and Monfoletto is listed as the contact with FMCSA. The company is also registered at Monfoletto’s home address in Suffolk County, according to Newsday.
Flores was riding on Lewis Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant at around 5:45 p.m. when Philip Monfoletto hit him with a Mac tanker truck while turning right onto Jefferson Avenue.
Monfoletto, 28, has seven license suspensions, according to the Daily News, and was caught driving with a suspended license as recently as last month. “He knew he was driving with a suspended license, but he works for an oil company delivering oil,” Monfoletto’s lawyer said at his Saturday court appearance, the News reported.
Streetsblog has a query in with New York State DOT about how Monfoletto was able to continue operating a commercial oil truck business despite his history of license suspensions.
Lewis Avenue at Jefferson Avenue is a one-way street that has two lanes for parked cars but no protection for people on bikes. Sixteen people were injured in crashes at the intersection from 2009 through 2017, according to city data.
Flores, who lived in Ridgewood, sustained a fractured skull and injuries to his torso and legs, reports said. He was pronounced dead at Interfaith Hospital. A memorial page to raise money for his family described Flores as an aspiring artist and architect.
Motorists have killed no fewer than 22 children age 14 and under since the 2014 launch of the city’s Vision Zero program, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog.
Though the perpetrator has a record of license suspensions and ended someone’s life, District Attorney Eric Gonzalez filed the same charge that applies when an unlicensed driver commits a minor traffic infraction.
“The defendant had absolutely no business behind the wheel,” Gonzalez ADA Matt Bennett said Saturday.
But Gonzalez filed a top charge of third degree aggravated unlicensed operation — the same charge Monfoletto could have received if police had, for example, stopped him for turning without a signal. Third degree aggravated unlicensed operation is an unclassified misdemeanor — the least severe misdemeanor category — and has a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine, though lighter sentences are the norm, even when the driver kills someone.
Gonzalez filed no charges against Monfoletto for the act of killing Kevin Flores.
Monfoletto was held on $2,500 bond, according to court records. His next court appearance is scheduled for March.
On Sunday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams called for penalties against companies that employ unlicensed drivers, and more serious consequences for people who drive while unlicensed.