NYPD: No Charges After Bus Driver Kills Woman Crossing Queens Street With the Right of Way

A school bus driver struck 58-year-old Elise Hellinger in a Kew Gardens crosswalk Tuesday morning. NYPD indicated the victim was crossing the street lawfully but filed no charges under the city's Right of Way Law.

Video still: WNBC
Video still: WNBC

NYPD filed no charges against a school bus driver who hit and killed a woman crossing a Kew Gardens street in the crosswalk.

Elise Hellinger, 58, was crossing 82nd Road, south to north, at around 6:45 a.m. Tuesday when the driver, northbound on Kew Gardens Road, struck her while turning left onto 82nd, the Daily News reported. Hellinger sustained head and body trauma and died at the scene.

Kew Gardens Road at 82nd Road is an unsignalized T intersection in a residential area, one block west of Queens Boulevard. Photos and video of the crash scene show the bus stopped in the marked crosswalk and the victim’s body, under a police tarp, to the right of the bus.

NYPD told the media Hellinger was in the crosswalk when she was struck. If that’s accurate, Hellinger was crossing the street lawfully. But police filed no charges against the driver under city code Section 19-190, which makes it a misdemeanor for motorists to harm people walking with the right of way.

Adhering to the police practice of shielding the names of motorists who aren’t charged or ticketed after killing people, NYPD identified the school bus driver only as being 24 years old.

Kew Gardens Road at 82nd Road. The white arrow indicates the direction the victim was walking and the red arrow shows the approximate path of the driver, according to NYPD. Image: Google Maps
Kew Gardens Road at 82nd Road. The white arrow indicates the direction the victim was walking and the red arrow shows the approximate path of the driver, according to NYPD. Image: Google Maps

The bus was carrying children at the time of the collision. No one on board was injured.

City data show no injuries or fatalities at the intersection where Hellinger was struck in recent years, but since 2010 drivers have injured 16 people walking on the seven-block stretch of Kew Gardens Road between 80th Road and 84th Avenue.

This fatal crash occurred in the 102nd Precinct, where officers ticketed fewer than two drivers a day for failure to yield in 2017, and in the City Council district represented by Karen Koslowitz. Motorists have killed no fewer than seven people walking and biking in Koslowitz’s district in the past nine months, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog.

  • Cristina Carnicelli Furlong

    I’m physically ill over this, and I’m kind of seasoned to this topic. Whoo. This is at least the 2nd bus driver off the hook in Queens too. The driver who killed Steve Ramirez at LaGuardia apparently switched busses and went back to work too. It’s sick, and sicker still that it takes people marching in the street every time, in order for any tiny effort by NYPD. It’s an f$%$ing $250 ticket, fail to yield…Not even that?

  • 1ifbyrain2ifbytrain

    Last week it would have been full daylight at that time of day. As someone previously posted, and I agree based on daily observation, school bus drives are second only to private trash haulers in reckless driving.

  • Vooch

    victim was

    texting, or wearing dark clothes, or darted into the crosswalk, or deliberately moved into drivers blindspot, or was not wearing a helmet, or driver mistook accelerator pedal for brake, or something else

    because it’s just accident,

    any word on how much damage the victim did to the bus ?


  • strangemonkey

    Welcome to NYC. Pedestrians: WATCH OUT FOR CARS, they kill with impunity, nothing happens to the drivers. The mayor is incompetent, the NYPD is corrupt, they look the other way while cars, trucks, and busses speed, drive recklessly, go through red lights, and kill cyclists and pedestrians.

  • AMH

    I’m tired of looking over my shoulder every time I cross the street. DOT needs to neckdown the hell out of every corner so that drivers risk slamming into a steel bollard unless they slow to 2-3mph.

  • JarekFA

    Access a rides are the worst.

  • MC

    This was a friend and it’s infuriating to know that this reckless driver is on the streets carrying our children. The driver should have, at minimum, lost her license and been required to take driving classes. She was an amazing person anyone would have been lucky to know. It is just so horrific.

  • Cristina Carnicelli Furlong

    So, I’m discovering the bus company has been involved in 36 crashes. They own a whole slew of companies, such as Little Richie, Little Linda’s and Grandpa’s bus service and have a fleet of hundreds of drivers. in a 2015 report, they racked up over 500 speed camera violations too. In light of speed camera news, why isn’t this news? If anyone can push for investigation, or follow up on speed camera violators, please follow my tweets at MakeQueensSafer.

  • SteveVaccaro

    This is how many at NYPD understand the Right of Way Law…no violation unless the driver disregarded a traffic control device (light or stop sign) affirmatively granting the victim the right of way. The rule that motorists must yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk at an unsignalized intersection is something they never heard of.

    The NYPD Collision Investigation Squad and the Queens County DA’s office *have* at least on occasion taken a different view (Example: Hoyt Jacobs https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2016/08/04/garbage-truck-driver-admits-to-causing-crash-that-killed-cyclist-hoyt-jacobs/ .) I wish they would stick their necks out a little bit more and inject into the critical 24-hour post-crash new cycle a comment about the possibility or likelihood of charges to help drivers understand that there are consequences.

  • That is why installing split phase signals at these intersections is the best way to protect everyone and get NYPD out of the equation . Street design rules.

  • Great find… The licensing of buses does not include safety check. Same for INtercity buses etc… sickening

  • I so agree with you . We should all go and lie down at dangerous intersections