DA Eric Gonzalez and NYPD: No Charges for Driver Who Killed 2 Kids in Crosswalk

Video shows Dorothy Bruns run a red light before striking the children, ages 1 and 4, and their mothers. The car Bruns was driving has been tagged for four red light violations and four school zone speeding violations since 2016.

Video still: NY1
Video still: NY1

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.

  • Joe R.

    She was so obviously playing the medical card when she was unresponsive and playing with her phone while being wheeled into the ambulance. Given her driving history, she doubtless practiced this a number of times in the past. It’s a shame that the cops bought it, hook, line, and sinker.

  • Vooch

    I suspect she is a member of a protected class ( cop, cops relative, etc ) Just like Marty Golden.

    Let‘s hope – Steve Vaccaro can further the cause by a civil suit.

  • JarekFA

    I wonder what she was doing in the neighborhood? I always think about the routes we take and why we end up where we’re at and where we’re going? Was she an aide at one of the many medical offices in the neighborhood? She lived in staten island. Was she driving from a doctor’s appointment herself. Does she work at a school? God, wouldn’t it have been better for her to be on an ebike instead.

  • captainkickstand

    If this is the final decision, it’s mind-boggling that the police and the DA, have had time to look “into all aspects of the case” barely 24 hours after these children were killed.

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    The mayor is going to “evaluate and take action” = ¯_(?)_/¯

  • Urbanely

    There really should not be any hesitation in this case. When you mow people down by driving against the light, and hitting them in a crosswalk, there should be strict liability for any resulting injuries/damage/fatalities. Just like when you rear-end someone while driving, you are presumed at fault because you shouldn’t have been driving so close. Not sure why this isn’t the law.

  • JarekFA

    Well, it’s open-and-shut for a wrongful death cause of action. No doubt about that. But whether $500K – $2M (more) in civil liability is sufficient compensation for taking two lives, especially if she cannot afford it. I don’t think so. If you kill two people you should go to jail. None of this bullshit regarding “she’ll have to live with it her whole life.” She gets to live. Marty Golden put a woman in a coma with his car from which she never recovered and he still drives like shit. Those children do not. I’m not saying an eye for an eye (or for two eyes), but on the merits, 5 to 10 years in prison seems appropriate.

  • JR

    If she has such a serious medical condition that can cause her to spontaneously run red lights, her license needs to be yanked at a minimum.

  • JR

    Why does there need to be deliberate action to file charges? We file charges against people for negligence in other areas all the time, driving shouldn’t be any different. Keeping your foot off the brake at a red light seems pretty negligent to me…

  • wagnet

    I highly doubt this person has an insurance policy this high. Most often it is 100k or less like every taxi in the city. That is the crime that should be changed.

  • Walking NPR

    The NYPD is also saying she may have had the light. Because NYPD….

  • Vooch

    or was she driving from the 78th ?

  • harry smith

    Wouldn’t it have been better if the police had checked Bruns’ driving record BEFORE suggesting it was all a tragic accident?

  • Vooch

    err Marty killed the woman and then paid her family $750,000 hush money

  • Vooch

    if she is a member of a protected class she has big time assets worth millions

  • JarekFA

    Did “he” [or his insurance] pay or did “we” pay?

  • Vooch

    My guess is we paid out of some slush fund

    corruption among these people is simply beyond compare

  • JarekFA

    If you live on Staten Island, suffer from MS and have business in Park Slope: You take the Express Bus to the Bay Ridge R and take the train like Sal Albanese does.

  • djw

    If a person routinely runs red lights and speeds in a school zone, and has a medical condition that occasionally compels her to do so, a sane society would consider that person guilty of a crime every time she gets behind the wheel.

  • Vooch

    But our overlords couldn’t possible take a bus.

    guaranteed the killer is part of the protected class mafia

  • Diane Jenks

    This
    needs to stop… every time one of these horrific incidents comes up
    and the police absolve the driver, it hurts all of us. Cars and
    distracted, angry, and impatient drivers are the new “shooters”… How
    are we going to stop this!?

  • Rex Rocket

    The lesson here is:
    If you kill some pedestrians or bikers, try to get away. If getting away doesn’t look easy, plow into some parked cars. It enhances the “accidental” quality of the tragedy you have caused, and you become a hero for sticking around at the scene of the murder.

  • Ken Dodd

    Let alone analyze her phone for evidence of activity which might have distracted her. Yet, she was pictured tapping away on her phone after the accident instead of it being in the hands of police.

  • JL

    A Volvo from SI, there’sa good chance she had a PBA card. Could you imagine if it were a brown man that went off? The SWAT team and politicians would’ve swarmed and it would’ve made the national news. Conversely, if it was a yellow cab hitting a couple of brown kids in Harlem or Queens-“find a way to victim blame”.

  • JR

    She might have a low policy limit, but they can also go after her assets if the payout is above the insurance limit.

  • Larry Littlefield

    If Ms. Bruns is affiliated with the political/union class, this is going to look pretty bad.

    But then again, with the constitutional convention not voted for (thanks in part to full media Omerta), Trump in the White House as the alternative, and the members of the victim’s generations focused on their phones, they know they don’t have to care.

  • bolwerk

    Broken windows for thee, a slap on the wrist for me.

    Always love that daily reminder that being “tough on crime” goes entirely out the window when the manufacturer of the murder weapon is Ford, GM, Toyota, Subaru, VW, Saab, Chrysler, etc..

  • JarekFA
  • MickMcMick

    Safer streets?! Don’t blame the street. Don’t blame cars. Don’t punish safe and responsible drivers. This was a callous act by either a person who knew she suffered from seizures who drove anyway, or more likely a habitual liar with no regard for human life who pretends to have a mystery condition to get out of responsibility for things, like how she had to be “cleared for work” recently. What does THAT mean?

    More laws won’t help one jot if you DON’T ENFORCE THE LAWS ALREADY ON THE BOOKS! Stop bad drivers after their first 4 red-light violations, yes? Waiting till they kill children is NOT HELPING!

    And don’t let her get away with criminally negligent homicide (not manslaughter) just based on her claims to have had seizures. She was TEXTING as they put her in a gurney, after she tried to leave the scene of her carnage. You can’t text while you’re having a seizure! Why did they give her phone back?! So she could backspace over the half-written “LOL” she was typing when she killed those poor babies?

    No more restrictions and punishment of everybody else every time some selfish monster commits an atrocity. Enforce the laws. The NYPD has been given orders not to arrest people to avoid the risk of exposing illegals to deportation. So now you know that Bill DeBlasio values criminal illegals over your children’s lives. LITERALLY.

  • MickMcMick

    Maybe headed for the methadone clinic down 9th Street near the old Pathmark? She was going that direction. Maybe she needed a fix.

  • JarekFA

    More I think about it the more I think you’re right. The only way someone racks up that many cam tix and zero in person tix is via Professional Courtesy.

  • Vooch

    absolutely

  • JarekFA

    And the shifting police leaks to the press. Her occupation hasn’t been reported yet which is usually included and obviously of interest if she had all these supposed medical conditions. Just way too fishy https://twitter.com/bdhowald/status/971533058024333312

  • Vooch

    You do realize the killer is a member of a protected class who never need to comply with pesky laws.

    Increased enforcement would not have stopped the killer.

    Engineering trumps corruption

  • EcoAdvocate

    exactly. A good start would be for NYS to stop taking so much money from the ticket revenue—municipalities use their budget money to run traffic enforcement and NYS dips its fat hand into the pot and takes most of it, leaving the municipality at a LOSS when running any extra traffic enforcement. THIS MUST END. With this condition, we have taxpayers funding extra enforcement efforts (like distracted driving or DUI stings) instead of the guilty, dangerous drivers. NYS doesn’t have to give up all the revenue, just slide the scale enough for city police departments to better than break-even when running traffic enforcement. This will encourage city police and sheriffs departments across the state to run MORE TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT. The only thing that needs to change this is the political will–it won’t cost cities anything. Enforcement needs to happen but it won’t be enough.
    Street redesign needs to also happen, calming traffic, raising crosswalks, wider sidewalks, narrower/fewer traffic lanes, curb bump-outs, etc.

  • EcoAdvocate

    why do people like this get to keep their license? it’s a privilege, not a right! If a driver does this, goodbye license forever. Get them OUT of their automobubble–at least so they are not behind the wheel–they could have their own driver.

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