Driver Kills Two Children, Ages 1 and 4, on Ninth Street in Park Slope

The location has a history of serious crashes, and is mere feet away from the Park Slope YMCA where Mayor de Blasio is driven to his morning workout each day.

A driver struck multiple pedestrians and killed two children on 9th Street in Park Slope this afternoon. Photo: Leah Finnegan/Twitter
A driver struck multiple pedestrians and killed two children on 9th Street in Park Slope this afternoon. Photo: Leah Finnegan/Twitter

A driver struck and killed two children, ages 1 and 4, on Ninth Street at Fifth Avenue in Park Slope this afternoon, according to police. At least one other person was injured in the crash. The driver is currently in NYPD custody at the scene of the collision.

Journalist Leah Finnegan tweeted photos from the scene showing a stroller under the rear wheels of a white Volvo sedan.

Police confirmed the deaths to Streetsblog. The third victim was a pregnant woman, according to the office of Borough President Eric Adams. She was rushed to the hospital, and her condition is unknown.

NYPD had no other information about the circumstances of the crash, and the identities of the victims and the driver have not been released.

Cutting east-west across Park Slope, Ninth Street functions as a neighborhood main street. Its mix of retail, with multiple subway and bus connections, makes it a crowded walking street.

A 2007 redesign added buffered, un-protected bike lanes, but the design is clearly inadequate. The street is wide and vulnerable to speeding, especially on the westbound side, where drivers travel downhill. The bike lane, meanwhile, is frequently blocked by double-parked vehicles, including Mayor de Blasio’s SUV caravan to the Park Slope YMCA.

In late February 2016, a hit-and-run driver struck and killed 41-year-old Bahtiyor Khamdamov at the same intersection as today’s crash.

Later that year, a driver critically injured a cyclist at the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Ninth Street.

The street is wide enough for curbside protected bike lanes on each side of the street, which would prevent speeding by narrowing the right-of-way for motor vehicles. But DOT has said that it won’t convert the buffered bike lanes to protected bike lanes because Ninth Street needs center turn pockets.

Tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m., residents and advocates plan to confront Mayor de Blasio at the Park Slope YMCA, which is mere feet away from the site of today’s crash, about how he plans to respond to the terrible loss of life on Ninth Street.

We’ll update this story as we get more information about the collision.

Correction: The post originally stated the victims were 3 and 5 years old, based on information from NYPD. Subsequent reports elsewhere give their ages as 1 and 4.

  • JarekFA

    Just too much to handle. This hits way to close to home. I haven’t been able to do any work for the past two hours and have just been sobbing at my desk while looking through my saved videos documenting the unsafe conditions on 5th ave, 9th street and around. I take that route every day to work on bike. My son walks there nearly every day with our Nanny, usually being pushed in his stroller just like one of the deceased children. I regret purchasing a home in Brooklyn. I thought we’d do right by our son (and future second child) by raising them in the city. Fuck that. We should’ve gone to the suburbs. I’ve been saying for a long time that my family can’t wait for the 4th ave protected bike lane to come in. What does any of it matter if your children are dead. Disgusting. And the mayor cracks down on fucking e-bikes. E-Bikes!!!!!!

  • Larry Littlefield

    What a horror.

    The first thing I did when I heard about it, without the details, is call my own adult child, who is at home today and might have gone to that same Y/ supermarket/ drugstore nearby. I really felt a little terror.

  • JarekFA

    I immediately texted our nanny to make sure it wasn’t her or our toddler son! But for those 3 minutes I was totally panicking. We go to that McDonalds all the time and probably cross 9th street at least twice a day. The guilt in the relief in knowing it wasn’t my son but it’s someone else children! No words can fully express the horror and apathy of our mayor.

  • I’m seeing the inevitable “this was an unimaginable accident” stuff out there on social media. Thoughts and prayers, basically. But this tragedy was very much imaginable and absolutely not an accident. Institutional inaction, indifference, and political fear caused these deaths.

    https://twitter.com/BrooklynSpoke/status/970735356579663872

  • Vooch

    It’s important to protect curbside car storage. Vitally important

    says Marty Golden

  • qrt145

    I have kids in the city too and share your pain, but I don’t regret my choice. The suburbs are even worse. The car-dependent lifestyle leads to kids getting killed even more frequently, maybe not in the same kinds of crashes we see in the city but also inside cars, on driveways, etc.

  • From 12 years ago. Same intersection.

  • Jen Messier

    I’ve always wondered why it’s so hard to get increased NYPD enforcement at any and all of these intersections, other than a pro-car bias from the city. I would think that traffic enforcement officers would be able to *more* than pay their salaries through consistent ticketing, and we’d (hopefully) be able to see a dent in dangerous driving. It’s so shocking and stupid that the precincts and politicians in these pedestrian heavy areas still seem to give a shit about drivers so much.

  • ohnonononono

    Look at the horrible condition of all the pavement markings there.

  • Maggie

    So horrible.

  • Fool

    Separate issue but Northern Boulevard was repaved months ago, and they have not even painted lane markings on it yet.

    This city, its institutions, and the employees that make up those institutions all seem to suck.

  • skypilot

    Hope we vote him out this November, I live in his district, he’s vulnerable, just beat his hand picked choice Quaglione in the city council last fall.

  • JarekFA

    Here’s some videos I posted today showing the habitual unsafe conditions on that stretch of 9th street and in the vicinity around it: https://twitter.com/JarekFA/status/970752353652523008

  • JarekFA

    Thank you for this. What’s amazing to me, is that, for the most part, the traffic volumes on 9th street are very low. Sneckdown the f— out of this street.

  • AstoriaBlowin

    “But DOT has said that it won’t convert the buffered bike lanes to protected bike lanes because 9th Street needs center turn pockets.”

    You see this in thousands of different ways all over the city, small and large improvements that could make streets safer and prevent deaths like what happened today are not implemented because those changes might possibly cause drivers to have to wait a few more seconds to make a turn or add a minute to someone’s journey time.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    Wow, the triple-parked black van. Amazing.

  • AMH

    Happy?!

  • ohnonononono

    https://nypost.com/2018/03/05/car-crash-leaves-multiple-pedestrians-injured/

    “She told officers that she was creeping up a bit at the intersection in anticipation of the red light changing and then accidentally hit the accelerator, sources said.

    Police sources said Bruns would not be held and was free to go, at least for now.”

  • JarekFA
  • JarekFA

    WTF!

  • rogue

    Equally infuriating was the mayor’s completely canned response before laughing it up at his “celebratory” press conference announcing the new school chancellor.

  • reasonableexplanation

    What can the mayor do here? This had nothing to do with the street design, or anything else other than the driver.

  • Guest

    Well, it finally happened in Bill’s comfortable, upper-class neck of the
    woods, and he shows he STILL doesn’t get it. Park Slope parents–take a cue from the Parkland kids and
    organize the hell out of this. Picket his gym every morning. The mayor and the media might not ignore you the way they ignore the rest of us.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Turns out it had nothing to do with street design, inaction, indifference, or political fear; “She told officers that she was creeping up a bit at the intersection in anticipation of the red light changing and then accidentally hit the accelerator, sources said.”

  • JarekFA

    Curb extensions and pedestrian refuges. Big Giant Rocks or Planters. There’s a lot in the toolkit.

  • reasonableexplanation

    So far it seems like the driver accelerated while waiting at a light. None of that would have helped.

  • JarekFA

    Sure, that’s what happened.

  • JarekFA

    And then continued dragging a stroller for over 100 meters? Sure.

  • reasonableexplanation

    If this driver confused the brake for the gas, absolutely. Think about it.

  • What point do you ever think you’re making with your so-called reasonable explanations? Had there been pedestrian islands, it’s conceivable that the family could have been safely across the street and out of harms way before this happened. (Ever tried crossing this street with a small kid and a stroller? It’s not easy.) Or maybe a different design would have caused the driver to crash into a steel bollard, concrete island, or parked cars instead of people.

    Who knows what happened, of course, and any one crash is never by itself going to provide all the information one needs to fix every problem, but this intersection has a history of bad crashes and there have been multiple calls from community members to fix it. Nothing was done.

    I just don’t see how you think your comment helps.

  • JarekFA

    But yet, with about 20x the traffic volume and many more lanes and pedestrians, this type of “woopsie” hasn’t happened once on Queens Boulevard after they implemented pedestrian enhancements and protected bike lanes on the boulevard of death. They had 6 ped fatalities and 8 total in 2013. After the re-design: 0.

    But sure, just an amazing coincidence that with 20x the volume and opportunity for a crash like this to manifest — it just hasn’t happened at all. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6133d85fb9c2a73a9f002210084dced884baec1d770f68cb1c702633c56426ff.png

    Your comment is the traffic violence version of this Onion article:

  • vnm

    Better driver’s ed? Stricter licensing standards? Messaging about how not to drive angry or sleep deprived if those turn out to be relevant? People shouldn’t die while walking down the sidewalk. Period. In train or ferry accidents where you have fewer fatalities than this, but lots more media coverage, the National Transportation Safety Board is summoned from Washington and spends months pouring over excruciating detail of how to prevent a similar incident from happening again, looking at every aspect of the incident, including days and hours of the train/ferry driver’s life prior to the incident, and finally making recommendations. But here, because we as a society give a free pass to cars, there won’t be anything close to that level of scrutiny.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    That explanation doesn’t even begin to pass the laugh test. The driver was “creeping” and by the time she got 30 feet across the intersection, she was already going a lethal speed? And she was going so fast that she couldn’t even stop until crashing into the opposite side of the road, four hundred feet later? With a residual speed still great enough to trigger the airbags?

    When the surveillance video inevitably surfaces we’re going to see something far different than “creeping up”.

  • Mr. Suburbs, Here

    @qrt145:disqus is exactly right. Many suburbs lack sidewalks, crosswalks, and crosswalks with signals. Forget about bike lanes. So crossing streets is like a game of frogger. People must walk in the roadbed, often without even a shoulder, and hope that the next driver careening around the blind curve isn’t going too fast or staring at the cell phone.

    The schools, even with decent sidewalks nearby, are clogged with parents driving their kids to school. There’s a small window of age, usually between 14-16 years old, when a handful of kids might ride a bike to school. But once they get their drivers’ license, they’re driving themselves and friends.

    In my suburban town with barely 10,000 people, there have been 3 kids hit by drivers this school year. They’re all ok physically, but that’s due mostly to luck. Keep in mind that this is a town where most kids are driven everywhere. I know one Mom who wouldn’t let her kid cross the main road to the school, so she drove her kid literally 50 yards. And I thought this was a rational response.

    Physical changes to the streets, like what is happening in NYC, almost never happens. Curb extensions? Pedestrian refuge islands? These are words unknown to suburban traffic engineers and politicians, since pedestrians and bicyclists are just a fringe group and the only interest that counts is drivers.

  • The lack of comment by the mayor is shameful.

  • Kwyjibo

    “reasonableexplanation” does little but here pollute the comments with red herrings for the sake of starting irrelevant arguments.

    S/he’s a troll.

  • reasonableexplanation

    You are mistaken; what tends to happen when someone mistakes the gas for the brake is they press the gas harder and harder, since they think it’s the brake (but it’s not stopping the car!). So imagine someone putting pedal to the metal until the hit something on the opposite side of the road. Easily lethal.

  • Jeffrey Baker
  • Walking NPR

    Doubtful she could’ve reached a high enough speed even with your explanation. But engineering could still help: narrower streets would create smaller intersections would prevent driver from getting to such a high speed before crossing the intersection.

    Vision Zero–the real thing, the European version–accepts human error is going to happen and, thus, engineers out the possibility of horrible consequences when humans make mistakes. Would be nice if we’d implemented it here rather than just using the name as a rebrand of status-quo traffic planning and enforcement.

  • JarekFA

    Looks like they had their right turn signal on. “They were creeping up”? Bullshit. This person wasn’t paying attention full stop. They were looking down on their phone. Distracted by something. But their head was down and this road is on a downhill. We cannot allow our streets to be such that any dumbass with their head up their ass can take out a family. Tons of people crossing at the moment. Disgusting. God damnit I cross that intersection every single day!!!! My son. Our nanny. Our friends.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    You can also see the car dive when the driver hits the brakes, so the “pedal confusion” theory being pushed by the moron downthread is right out. The only explanation for how the car ended up 100 yards down the street is they tried to run for it.

  • chandru

    And if you drive like this, you should be hanged. Any decent driver person would NEVER mistake one pedal for the other, it’s coded into your body response. And not realizing? NO.

  • AnoNYC

    Pedestrian collision avoidance technology won’t be mandated for new vehicles for a few more years. Because it’s taking so long to make it a requirement here in the United States, for at least another two decades or so we will have continued collisions of this type.

    The technology works good, and would have surely operated in this scenario.

    On the positive side, Toyota Corollas and Camrys are popular for-hire vehicle options in NYC and have the feature standard. So NYC will receive the benefits of this tech faster than the general national population.

  • AnoNYC

  • walks bikes drives

    Apparently, it was an honest mistake. So after she serves an honest term in prison and makes an honest financial restitution to the family, she can be honest about never driving a car for the rest of her life.

    When you inch forward, you don’t take your foot of the brake, you just release pressure on it. So, honestly, she might not be lying if she is not intending to deceive, but she sure as he’ll isn’t telling the truth.

  • gneiss

    This crash was no accident. It was part of a pattern of recklessness and contempt for traffic law that has been documented by NYC in the numerous violations that she has racked up over just the last two years. https://twitter.com/ldquigley/status/970830284714315776

  • Urbanely

    That amount of violations and she was still behind the wheel. This just reinforces the fact that red light/school zone cameras are really about revenue generation and not safety. Assuming she had a valid license, there’s no reason one should be able to rack up that many in such a short time without losing the license and/or the vehicle.

  • Urbanely

    She should be thrown under the jail just for “creeping up at the intersection”. Nobody gets to go until they see green. No Idaho stops for cars.

  • concerned parent

    You only need to see their personal cars parked along sidewalks and blocking crosswalks to know that the 78th Precinct doesn’t actually care to protect pedestrians. The lawlessness of drivers throughout their district is quite remarkable given the context of the streets. Until they step up and do real traffic enforcement, this won’t be the last tragedy

  • MatthewEH

    44 is awfully damned young to suffer a pedal confusion issue.

    Drivers creeping up on the intersection at their red light is ugly, ugly shit to begin with. It’s menacing to pedestrians and saves drivers no actual time. Infuriating.

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