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Two More Deaths Bring a Bloody End to a Bad Year for NYC Pedestrians

12:01 PM EST on January 1, 2019

This is the scene moments after the driver hit and killed a pedestrian on the last day of 2018 in Jackson Heights. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Two more pedestrians were killed by drivers in the waning hours of 2018 — a year that saw an increase in pedestrian deaths despite declining fatalities for cyclists and motorists overall.

In the first of the two Dec. 31 incidents, police say Long Island resident Vitaliana Garcia Gavilan, 43, drove her 2008 Chevy Equinox into a pedestrian at around 12:45 p.m. on busy 37th Avenue at 81st Street in Jackson Heights — a commercial strip distinguished entirely by its profligate (and rarely enforced) illegal- and double-parking.

According to police, Garcia Gavilan was traveling westbound on the commercial strip when she tried to turn right onto 81st Street. That's where she struck the pedestrian, whose name was not released. The pedestrian was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where she died.

Garcia Gavilan remained on the scene, but cops quickly determined that she was driving without a license. Later, she was also charged with failure to yield and failure to use due care causing a serious injury, in addition to the unlicensed driving charge.

Hours later on Staten Island, a 91-year-old man was run down on Victory Boulevard near Westcott Boulevard by the driver of a 2016 Volkswagen Jetta.

Cops say the driver remained on the scene of the 5:23 p.m. crash. The pedestrian, Nabil Hakim, was taken to Richmond University Medical Center, where he died. There were no immediate charges, police said.

Those two late-year deaths bring the total of pedestrian fatalities to 114 in unofficial statistics — an increase of 7.5 percent over last year's 106 pedestrians killed on the roads of New York City. Overall, road deaths appeared to be on target to be below 200 for the first time in the Age of the Automobile. As of midnight, it appeared that 199 people overall were killed on the roads.

Queens, however, had the highest number of pedestrian deaths of any borough, statistics show.

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