Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In

Cops Bust Van Driver Who Killed Gravesend Pedestrian and Rainbow Bagel Legend

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams visited the spot where Francine LaBarbara was run down and killed on Tuesday in Gravesend. Photo: Click Tom DeVito.

SB Donation NYC header 2

Police have made a quick arrest of the hit-and-run driver they say ran over and killed a 57-year-old pedestrian in Gravesend on Tuesday.

Susan Liebowitz, 55, is facing charges of leaving the scene of a crash, failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care stemming from the Tuesday morning crash that killed Francine LaBarbara, a 57-year-old single mother of two and marketing director of The Bagel Store in Williamsburg, famous for its rainbow bagel.

Police say that Liebowitz was driving a white Ford Econoline van on West Second Street at around 8 a.m. when she tried to make a left turn onto Avenue Y, hitting and killing LaBarbara, who was in the crosswalk. The intersection has a stop sign, which are often safer than traffic lights, so it is unclear whether the suspect blew through the sign or was simply driving so recklessly that she did not see LaBarbara.

Liebowitz then fled, but was later caught thanks to surveillance footage and witness testimony, a police spokeswoman told Streetsblog.

At a press conference on Wednesday morning, Borough President Eric Adams called for a redesign of the street, more speed cameras and pedestrian bulb-outs for safety.

It's a dangerous stretch. Since January, 2017, 11 people have been injured in just the eight blocks of Avenue Y between Shell Road and Ocean Parkway.

LaBarbara did not invent the rainbow bagel, but her co-workers said she played a huge role in popularizing the gay pride baked good.

In a statement, State Senator-elect Andrew Gounardes cheered LaBarbara's marketing exercise.

"Her contribution to our community in Brooklyn and to the entire LBTQ+ community as the visionary behind the rainbow-colored bagel will never be forgotten,” Gounardes said.

SB Donation NYC header 2

Our December Donation Drive continues!
Our December Donation Drive continues!

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Car Crashes by City Workers Cost Taxpayers $180M in Payouts Last Year: Report

A record number of victims of crashes involving city employees in city-owned cars filed claims in fiscal year 2023 — and settlements with victims have jumped 23 percent, a new report shows.

April 16, 2024

Tuesday’s Headlines: Biking with a Dutchman Edition

You really get a fresh perspective on city cycling when you do it with someone from Holland. Plus other news.

April 16, 2024

City Urges Judge to Toss Anti-Open Streets Lawsuit

The city's not responsible for 24-7 car access to every street, officials argued.

April 16, 2024

Opinion: Connect the Dots of Manhattan’s Missing Bike Lanes

Only a few miles of missing protected lanes stand in the way of a robust bike network.

April 15, 2024

Monday’s Headlines: Thanking the Academy Edition

We would be remiss if we didn't offer some photos and copy about Friday's George Polk Awards ceremony, plus other news.

April 15, 2024
See all posts