Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez Indicts Driver Who Killed Two Kids on 9th Street for Manslaughter

The DA says Dorothy Bruns ignored doctors' instructions to stop driving months before she hit Joshua Lew and Abigail Blumenstein.

Video still: NY1
Video still: NY1

Dorothy Bruns, the motorist who killed two small children and injured their mothers and a fifth victim in Park Slope in March, has been indicted on multiple charges, including manslaughter and homicide.

She was arrested at her home in Staten Island this morning, the Post reported.

Bruns was driving a Volvo sedan on March 5 when she accelerated against a red light into a crosswalk on Ninth Street at Fifth Avenue, fatally striking 20-month-old Joshua Lew and Abigail Blumenstein, age 4. Ruthie Ann Blumenstein and Lauren Lew, the children’s mothers, were hospitalized. A 46-year-old man crossing the street was also injured.

Bruns, 44, has a number of health problems that at any time could have affected her ability to safely operate a car, but allegedly ignored directions to stop driving.

“The defendant, who suffered a seizure at the time of the collision, was instructed not to drive after being hospitalized less than two months earlier after crashing her car into a parked vehicle,” the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said.

Bruns also has a record of reckless driving. Her car was tagged repeatedly by enforcement cameras for running red lights and speeding in school zones. Months before the Park Slope crash, she struck and injured Brandy Williams, 28, in Long Island City and fled the scene.

Joshua Lew and Abigail Blumenstein
Joshua Lew and Abigail Blumenstein

Still, authorities took no action to keep her off the road until she killed two children. NYPD failed to investigate the hit-and-run, and the camera tickets didn’t draw attention because they don’t result in license points.

It would have been up to Bruns to tell the state Department of Motor Vehicles about her medical conditions. Other than a vision test every few years, the DMV requires no proof that a person, once licensed, remains fit to operate a motor vehicle.

Under state law, however, medical conditions don’t give motorists a pass to inflict harm. New York City district attorneys can and do prosecute drivers who, for instance, fail to take medication to control seizures and, as a result, cause a fatal collision.

“Her alleged insistence on driving despite doctor’s orders and serious medical conditions that prevented her from safely doing so was not only irresponsible, it was unlawful,” said Gonzalez. “I intend to now hold her accountable and urge all drivers to heed instructions of medical professionals and never drive a car when told not to.”

Second-degree manslaughter, the top charge against Bruns, is a class C felony with penalties ranging from no jail time to 15 years in prison.

Soon after the crash, lawmakers promoted legislation to require doctors to report health issues that could lead to crashes to the DMV, expand the city’s speed camera program, and establish sanctions for drivers whose vehicles are associated with multiple camera violations. It remains to be seen whether those measures will be a priority for legislative leaders in the current session.

Bruns pled not guilty this afternoon and was held on $75,000 bond. Her next court appearance is scheduled for June 13.

  • Joe R.

    I wonder if she would have been charged had she not been under doctor’s orders to not drive? I’m glad she’s being charged, but what about those who have conditions which prevent them from driving and never received doctor’s orders to not drive? That group could include those who have yet to see a doctor about their condition. It also includes those who are uninsured, and can’t afford to see a doctor. The law should be if you have a condition which prevents you from driving, whether or not you saw an MD regarding that condition, then you can be charged if you kill or injure someone behind the wheel.

    As an aside, this looks like it might be a Pyrrhic victory. Judging by the picture of her in the NYP, she might well be dead before her trial concludes.

  • An editing note: I believe that the driver is 55 years old, not 44.

  • Vooch

    The only reason she is being charged is she killed upper middle class people AND the huge media effort on the part of advocates

    well done

  • Joe R.

    Every source has her age as 44. I even found this:

    Granted, due to her illness she looks easily 20 years older, but she’s definitely not 55.

  • Gothamist has her at 55.

    I guess that’s where the mistake is.

  • Joe R.

    Yes. Gothamist messed up here.