Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and NYPD filed no charges against the motorist who drove through a red light and killed two small children in a crosswalk in Park Slope yesterday.
The victims were crossing Ninth Street at Fifth Avenue early Monday afternoon when a woman in a Volvo sedan, identified as 44-year-old Dorothy Bruns of Staten Island, accelerated into them.
Abigail Blumenstein, 4, and 20-month-old Joshua Lew were killed. The children's mothers, 34-year-old Ruthie Ann Blumenstein and Lauren Lew, 33, were hospitalized and are reportedly in stable condition.
Video shows Bruns enter the crowded crosswalk and strike the victims. She dragged Joshua and his stroller half a block before crashing into parked cars on the opposite side of the street.
A witness told the Brooklyn Paper the driver “approached the intersection slowly, well after the light turned red, and then averted her eyes before accelerating into the victims making their way through the crosswalk.”
Both children were pronounced dead at the scene.
Bruns was reportedly detained by police after the crash, then released.
We asked NYPD and Gonzalez's office if Bruns's phone was checked for evidence of distraction.
The DA's office sent us a statement: “This very tragic incident is under active investigation and we are looking into all aspects of this case.”
An NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog the crash is "still under investigation" and provided no further details.
According to the Times, Bruns blamed the collision on a medical condition. However, the Post reported that she told police she was “creeping up a bit at the intersection in anticipation of the red light changing and then accidentally hit the accelerator while the moms and kids were in the crosswalk.” The Post also said Bruns "told cops she was trying to avoid hitting a car and swerved out of the way."
Traffic camera data shows that, since 2016, the car Bruns was driving has been tagged for four red light violations and four school zone speeding violations.
Though NYPD says investigators are still working the crash, police made excuses for the driver.
“It doesn’t look like anything deliberate at this point, but we have to figure it out,” department spokesperson Stephen Davis told the Times. “There’s a possibility it may have been some kind of medical condition involved here. She did not hit and run.”
Davis is laboring here to preemptively clear Bruns of wrongdoing, but under the law medical conditions do not excuse motorists for harming people.
In 2009, Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau won a murder conviction against Auvryn Scarlett, an Action Carting driver who was off his epilepsy medication when he killed British tourists Jacqueline Timmins and Andrew Hardie on a Midtown sidewalk. In recent years the Bronx DA has pursued murder and manslaughter charges against drivers who killed pedestrians while neglecting to take medication to control seizures.
New York City motorists have killed at least 24 children age 14 and under since the 2014 launch of the city's Vision Zero traffic safety initiative.