Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In

Astoria Cyclist Xellea Samonte Killed by Motorist, Slandered by NYPD

12:52 PM EDT on July 27, 2018

35th Street at 23rd Avenue in Astoria. Image: Google Maps

The cyclist hit by a motorist in Astoria on Tuesday has died, the NYPD said Friday.

Xellea Samonte was in the bike lane on 35th Street when the driver hit her with the “front passenger side” of his van as she crossed under elevated train tracks at 23rd Avenue at around 12:20 a.m., an NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog. She died later in the day.

Samonte, 23, lived in Astoria. The driver, identified only as a 28-year-old man, was neither charged nor ticketed.

Outlets including the Daily News and the Astoria Post repeated the 114th Precinct's claims that Samonte caused the crash by running a red light. But an NYPD spokesperson could not say why investigators concluded Samonte was at fault.

NYPD routinely relies on driver testimony in cases where crash victims are no longer alive to tell their side of the story. But motorist accounts are often found to be false when more evidence comes to light — not that NYPD has changed the department's practice, which further traumatizes victims' families.

NYPD has now blamed deceased cyclists for running red lights at least seven times in the last 16 months, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog. Police have produced corroborative evidence in none of those cases.

Not counting this week's crash, 10 people have been injured in collisions at 35th Street and 23rd Avenue since 2009, according to City Hall. In 2016, a motorist killed 88-year-old pedestrian Savas Maounis in the crosswalk at 23rd Avenue and 33rd Street, one block away. The driver who hit Maounis was arrested and charged with a Right of Way Law violation.

Safe streets advocates are currently calling out deadly Astoria street conditions and NYPD victim-blaming on Twitter.

The area where Samonte was killed is represented in the City Council by Costa Constantinides.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Wednesday’s Headlines: Another Big Day at City Hall Edition

Today is going to be another busy day for the livable streets crowd. So get ready with today's headlines.

December 6, 2023

Reporter’s Notebook: Will Eric Adams Ever Publicly Embrace Congestion Pricing?

The governor, the head of the MTA and the city's leading transit thinkers all celebrated congestion pricing on Tuesday as an historic moment while Mayor Adams spent Tuesday failing to live up to it.

December 6, 2023

Tuesday’s Headlines: Gridlock Alert — And Gridlock Abort — Day Edition

A "Gridlock Alert" day is a perfect day for supporters of congestion pricing to rally in Union Square! Plus other news.

December 5, 2023

‘Crazy Nonsense’: City Now Allows (Cough) Plateless Vehicles to (Cough) Break Idling Law

City environmental protection officials are now refusing to punish owners of commercial vehicles for idling if the trucks don't have license plates — a move that has enraged citizen enforcers.

December 5, 2023
See all posts