Cops: No Charges Against Driver Who Fatally Struck Beloved Columbia Dean

Police on Wednesday arrested the 24-year-old driver who hit and killed the former Columbia University professor and dean Peter Awn in January.
Police on Wednesday arrested the 24-year-old driver who hit and killed the former Columbia University professor and dean Peter Awn in January.

Police have released some sketchy details about the death of a beloved Columbia University dean — but one point definitely stands out: the driver who ran over 75-year-old Peter Awn was not charged in the death.

According to police, Awn was crossing Claremont Avenue in the crosswalk at around 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 25, when he was hit by the 23-year-old driver of a 2015 Toyota Highlander, an extremely large SUV, the was turning left from W. 116th Street onto Claremont. Awn’s head hit the pavement and he was taken to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, but he never left. He died on Sunday, setting off an outpouring of grief across the Morningside Heights campus, as Streetsblog reported earlier in the week.

The driver remained at the scene, according to police, and was not charged. He has still not been charged, despite new details suggesting that he violated Awn’s right-of-way and failed to exercise due care in driving his SUV.

“The investigation remains ongoing,” police said in a statement.

Awn, who was the dean of the School of General Studies for 20 years until his retirement in 2017, had been in critical-but-stable condition in the neuro intensive care unit since the Jan. 25 crash, the Columbia Spectator reported. Columbia University President Lee Bollinger broke the news of his death to the entire school community.

“Since his arrival on the Columbia campus more than four decades ago, no one has been a more beloved member of our community than Peter,” Bollinger said. “The grief we feel at his loss is overwhelming.

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