Cops Bust Van Driver Who Killed Gravesend Pedestrian and Rainbow Bagel Legend
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.
An arrest was made in the fatal #hitandrun of 57-year-old Francine LaBarbara in #Gravesend. @MarkTreyger718, @TransAlt, and I are at Ave. Y and W. 2nd St. to call for street redesign at this crossing, as well as demand speed cameras at every school. Traffic violence must stop. pic.twitter.com/rKA5eDYhPR
— Eric Adams (@BPEricAdams) December 12, 2018
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.