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.

Kevin Flores. Photo: GoFundMe
Kevin Flores. Photo: GoFundMe

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.

Lewis Avenue at Jefferson Avenue. Photo: Google Maps
Lewis Avenue at Jefferson Avenue. Photo: Google Maps

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.

Flores was struck in the 81st Precinct, and in the City Council district represented by Robert Cornegy.

  • Joe R.

    Not uncommon for companies to have unlicensed drivers. I worked for about a year at a place where that was the rule rather than the exception. They had even asked me to drive a few times but I refused. I don’t think their vehicles had insurance or valid plates, either.

    That said, licenses don’t replace eyes and ears. I lot of licensed drivers can’t drive their way out of a paper bag. I think it’s more important to get people off the road who demonstrate they’re incapable of driving, whether or not they have a license. Maybe we need to chip people and have ignition interlocks. If the state says you can’t drive, they deactivate your chip and any vehicle you try to drive won’t even start. It’s pretty clear we can’t depend upon companies or individuals voluntarily complying with licensing laws.

  • MasonEagle

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again but until a politician, DA, high ranking police official or friends or relative of the above are killed by one of these worthless pieces of inhuman dog excrement, we’ll see no change in the way they prosecute these murderers. So we’re left with wishing death upon these people, on the basis that it’s required to make our streets safer and save future lives.

  • bggb

    Not even.

    DA Alan Dershowitz’s sister in law was tragically killed on a bike and it resulted in no major changes.

  • van_vlissingen

    To my knowledge Dershowitz was never a DA.

  • qrt145

    At least they prosecuted the hit and run, perhaps due to Alan Dershowitz’s influence, but the jury bought the old “I didn’t notice I hit anyone” BS.

  • Ken Dodd

    He wasn’t, no.

  • Cristina Carnicelli Furlong

    I read today that Kevin Flores was a grad of the Recycle a Bike program. So many groups in the city motivate young kids to ride, and teach them safety. But, nevertheless, this threat of unmitigated recklessness will continue to kill people. Just reading this article and seeing the at least 6 others Brad Aaron has written in the last 4 years is devastating. Like many other cyclists, I often stop traffic or get in fights with drivers, and one popular line among many others is “Do you even have a license?” We have to keep pushing legislators, the DMV and these jackass drivers to care a bit. It’s amazing how desensitized to these issues.

  • Vooch

    I’ll argue the easiest way to get attention is via the companies’ insurance carrier.

    If the insurance carrier cancels insurance because the company allows dangerous-unlicensed drivers – this will change behavior real fast

  • Why can’t they file a failure to yield , with its criminal penalties ?

  • ddartley

    That’s fine except that it would probably trigger only after something bad happens. My idea might not have stopped Monfoletto, but I’d like to see a system by which companies get notified by the government “we see that your driver, ____________ had his license suspended on _____ 2018. If he is found to be driving for your company between now and [suspension end date] or at any time while his license is suspended, your company will be subject to the following schedule of criminal penalties.” And the penalties would increase with each aggravating factor such as repeat offenses and injuries.

  • ddartley

    Since for a few years I wasn’t able to keep up with streetsblog like I used to, I’ll plead ignorance of commenting etiquette, and re-post this earlier comment of mine in the hope of getting some insights as to its viability:

    Are companies required to identify to any government agency anyone they employ to operate company vehicles, or at least trucks? They should be. And the relevant government agency should be automatically informed any time any such driver has his license suspended, triggering the agency automatically to notify the company, “we see that your driver, ____________ had his license suspended on _____ 2018. If he is found to be driving for your company between now and [suspension end date] or at any time while his license is suspended, your company will be subject to the following schedule of criminal penalties.” And the penalties would increase with each aggravating factor, such as repeat offenses and injuries.

    Might not have stopped Monfoletto since he might be the only employee of his company, but then again it might have, and I strongly suspect it would help in other cases. @disqus_dlP91vGbzC:disqus, or anyone else: any knowledge of whether any of that could fly or already does? I get @TheVooch:disqus’s point about insurance, and it should be part of the picture too, but that’s more reactive; I think what I describe above would be more proactive and preventive.

  • joyauto

    When will you people learn that the State does not want to discourage crashing since it generates a lot of business, which results in a lot of tax revenue. Read my book and learn: “What you don’t know about driving can get you killed!” Available at amazon.com

  • joyauto
  • Vooch

    canceling the insurance for ALL drivers would be far worse

  • Evan Kilgore

    I’m Evan Kilgore, Kevin’s principal and the person who launched the gofundme account. Thanks so much for all you do to create safe streets, and for bringing attention to Kevin’s death and the fundraiser. While we obviously continue to be heartbroken over the loss of a truly great kid, we’re excited to have already exceeded our $10,000 goal and continue to raise money for Kevin’s mother, who is five months pregnant.

    Kevin was in fact a part of our Recycle-A-Bicyle program, and loved his bike and the freedom it gave him. As a sixth grader, Kevin commuted on multiple buses and trains to get to school in Crown Heights from Ridgewood, and was often late. Then he got his bike, and was proud that he was no longer late – though when he was he joked that his bike ran out of gas. I’ll always remember often leaving school to find Kevin in the school yard, hunched over his bike turned upside down on the black top, adjusting one thing or another. As a cyclist and an educator I don’t know that much made me happier than seeing Kevin get so psyched on cycling, and his death and its preventability is heartbreaking.

  • Seb K Mtb

    Nothing will happen . He will be let off lightly as usual . Like they say if you want someone killed use a vehicle .

  • neroden

    Someone with a record of reckless and unsafe driving should simply be prohibited from driving. If caught driving *after* license revocation, the only reasonable option is life imprisonment, simply to protect the public.

  • Joe R.

    Or just keep confiscating whatever vehicle they’re driving. Most people can’t afford to continually replace forfeited vehicles.

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