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Motorist Who Killed Senior in Queens Crosswalk Pleads to Violating Victim’s Right of Way

Liberty Avenue intersection where a motorist killed Toolia Rambarose. Image: Google Maps

The motorist who killed 70-year-old Toolia Rambarose in a Richmond Hill crosswalk earlier this year was sentenced to a small fine after pleading guilty to violating the victim's right of way. His driving privileges were apparently unaffected.

Rambarose was crossing Liberty Avenue at around 6:14 p.m. on February 7 when Kazim Mohammed hit her with a van as he turned left onto Liberty from 135th Street, according to Patch and Daily News stories published days after the crash.

Mohammed, then 47, was arrested and charged under the city's Right of Way Law. He was also ticketed for failure to exercise due care.

Adopted in 2014, the Right of Way Law, also known as Section 19-190, made it an unclassified misdemeanor for motorists to harm people walking and biking with the right of way. The maximum penalty for violating the law is a $250 fine and 30 days in jail.

Pursuant to a plea agreement with District Attorney Richard Brown, in June Mohammed was fined $50 plus $200 in court fees.

Streetsblog found no evidence that Mohammed's driving privileges were interrupted for causing a death. Court records do not indicate that his license was suspended or revoked as part of the plea agreement.

When a driver kills someone, the state Department of Motor Vehicles is supposed to convene a safety hearing, where an administrative law judge determines whether that driver’s license should be suspended or revoked. But the DMV sometimes fails or declines to convene a hearing, leaving it to the courts to get a deadly driver off the road.

The DMV web site lists no scheduled or completed safety hearing for Kazim Mohammed.

Motorists have killed five people walking on Liberty Avenue since 2009, according to city data. Other victims include Rohan Singh, struck by a hit-and-run driver in 2012, and an unnamed male pedestrian killed in 2014. A motor vehicle occupant died in a crash on Liberty in 2013.

DOT knows Liberty Avenue isn't safe for walking. “Wide streets such as Hillside and Liberty Avenues accommodate heavy vehicular volumes and pose dangers to pedestrians due to especially long crossing distances and high-speed traffic,” read the agency’s 2015 Queens pedestrian safety action plan. But the plan did not designate Liberty, or any of its intersections, for safety upgrades.

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