Grieving Brooklyn Family Rails at Postal Service ‘Killers’

Gregory McClean at the intersection in Brooklyn where his brother, Charles, was killed by a postal service driver. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Gregory McClean at the intersection in Brooklyn where his brother, Charles, was killed by a postal service driver. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

“It’s homicide, as far as I’m concerned.”

That was Gregory McClean, standing in the rain on Sunday, telling Streetsblog about the Friday night death of his younger brother, Charles, who was run down by the driver of a United States Postal Service truck at the corner of Macdougal Street and Howard Avenue in the Ocean Hill section of Brooklyn.

Charles McClean, kneeling on the right, with his brother Arkim (also kneeling), Gregory (top left) and Reggie (center). A nephew is on the top right. Photo: McClean family.
Charles McClean, kneeling on the right, with his brother Arkim (also kneeling), Gregory (top left) and Reggie (center). A nephew is on the top right. Photo: McClean family.

McClean, 52, had gone out for lottery tickets one block from his Fulton Street apartment and never came back. The driver had stopped at the intersection, but then inched further into the roadway, looking only to his left at the oncoming cars — a common practice of drivers at one-way intersections without a traffic light. By the time the roadway was clear for the mail truck driver, McClean was crossing in front. He was knocked down and fatally dragged through the intersection.

“There was no way he could be saved,” Gregory McClean, the oldest of the eight McClean brothers, said at the intersection as he watched car after car make the same mistake that the mail truck driver made. “It’s wrong. We’re not safe crossing our own crosswalk. They’re looking only for the cars, not at the people crossing.

This is the corner where Charles McClean was killed on Friday. The postal service driver was going straight through this stop sign, but only looking left to see oncoming cars. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
This is the corner where Charles McClean was killed on Friday. The postal service driver was going straight through this stop sign, but only looking left to see oncoming cars. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

“But this is a federal worker!” McClean continued, pointing to the postal service station halfway up the block — where the driver was heading at the time of the 5:06 p.m. crash. “They drive so fast in this neighborhood, just rushing to clock out. This driver was a young guy. Well, you hired him! Train him! It’s recklessness. I call it homicide!”

The dead man’s other brother, Arkim, said he had long ago noticed that United States Postal Service trucks do not have license plates — and therefore are not ticketed by the NYPD for all manner of violations to which all other drivers are subject.

“No license plates means no tickets and no accountability,” Arkim McClean said. “If I have to have a license plate and I can get a ticket, they should have the same thing.”

The NYPD declined to identify the mail truck driver, who remained on the scene. Cops said no charges had been filed against him.

Police also could not immediately say how many USPS trucks have been involved in crashes this year. The lack of license plates on United States Postal Service vehicles makes driving records of postal workers nearly impossible to track.

A traffic enforcement officer told Streetsblog that his commanding officer told him not to bother even writing tickets when he sees USPS trucks parked in bike lanes, parked illegally, blocking crosswalks or doing other dangerous things that New Yorkers see every day.

“They drive terribly,” the enforcement officer said. “I want to give them tickets, but they don’t have to pay them so my C.O. said it’s a waste of my time. He’s right, but it makes me feel like I’m not doing my job.”

The Postal Service has not commented publicly since Friday’s crash. The USPS website offers no way to check safety records, and the inspector general has rarely examined the mail service’s record. Last year, in a blog post, the IG’s office said it had spot-checked the safety record of the Great Lakes region — which had the highest accident frequency rate,, 17.9 crashes per 100 employees, of all seven Postal Service areas in the two prior years.

“Great Lakes management did not consistently adhere to safety compliance and accident reporting requirements,” the report said.

The Postal Service has not released any analysis of safety since an audit in 2012 found that none of the managers at 23 postal service regions “completed the required minimum [safety] observations” of drivers. Seven regions did not do any safety observations at all, though it is impossible to know which regions had the worst records because the audit is redacted.

Every day, even on Sunday when there's no mail delivery. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Every day, even on Sunday when there’s no mail delivery. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

In the two years prior, postal service drivers got into 40,000 motor vehicle crashes, averaging out to 9.2 accidents per million miles driven, the audit said.

One postal worker posted a comment on the Inspector General’s Great Lakes report that was very telling:

Carriers, the commenter posted, “are constantly pushed to work faster and harder no matter what it takes to deliver and get back: exceeding speed limits in certain areas, multiple back-tracking, u-turns, three-point turns, backing up, etc.”

“Management tells you to just do it, but they will deny they said it and will not back you if there is an accident,” the worker said. “Pressured to just hit the street and deliver and get back quickly.”

  • Jeff

    Daylighting + Raised Crosswalks

  • Joseph S

    It wouldn’t matter if they did have license plates. Federal vehicles are immune from local law enforcement.

  • Joe R.

    Can’t wait for Amazon to perfect drone delivery so the USPS can follow suit. That’s the only way we’ll get all these dangerous delivery trucks off the streets for good. It’ll also make me happy seeing these incompetent fools on the unemployment line. Our local delivery people often can’t even get the addresses straight. I’m tired of getting other people’s mail, then having to waste my time bringing it over to them.

  • Vooch

    Maybe no massive trucks at all ?

    Other cities with far less density have much of their mail delivered on bicycles – why can’t we ?

    Amusing video from the war on cars fellow

  • Spamsalot

    Being perfect is a terrible burden. You have my sympathy.

  • Spamsalot

    One size fits all.

  • Joe R.

    The mail is sorted by machine. Errors should happen a lot less often than they do. Repetitive, tedious tasks like sorting and delivering mail are best done totally by machine anyway. Not just because this eliminates most error, but also because no humans should do such boring, repetitive jobs. Humans in general aren’t good at this types of tasks because the boredom causes them to lose focus and make errors.

  • Mr Postman

    LOL!!! If Amazon ever perfects drone delivery, your items can be retrieved from the middle of the street, your rooftop, or get hijacked by someone following the drone so they can steal the drone and your item. I’m thinking you should get a job working as a CCA letter carrier for the USPS. You might be able to change things for the better. The USPS will send you out with a full truckload of mail for about 700-1,000 addresses, work you like a mule 10-12 hrs 6-7 days a week with your supervisor yelling at you all the time to work faster. Then you can see what level of incompetency you can aspire to.

    If people weren’t so damn lazy anymore, they would go to their local stores to buy their items themselves instead of buying them online and having the delivery services bring them to their front door. We deliver everyday stuff like toilet paper, baby diapers, bottled water and soda, 50lb sacks of dog food and kitty litter in those smiley-faced Amazon boxes. That’s the real reason why all those dangerous delivery trucks are on the streets.

  • Mr Postman

    Really? What do you do for a living? Nothing?

  • Not True.

  • Joe R.

    I DO go to the store, almost every day. The only time I order stuff online is when local stores don’t carry it. I’m not one of those idiots that orders toilet paper from Amazon.

    How come the letter carriers in the past didn’t make the number of errors which seem to happen now? I’m not going to make a big deal if I get someone else’s mail once or twice a year but this happens on an almost weekly basis. In fact, I’ve noticed the general level of competency is way down for lots of jobs. Freshly repaved streets are full of waves, ripples, divets, and raised manhole covers. I had to waste time this week correcting the erroneous bill ConEd sent me because the meter reader got both gas and electric meter readings wrong. It just goes on and on. If you can’t do a job competently find another line of work.

  • Joe R.

    I was an electronics engineer. Now I’m involuntarily retired because I’m taking care of my mother who can’t take care of herself.

    My point is people should do creative, interesting jobs. Replace the boring, repetitive shit jobs with machines.

  • Mr Postman

    Joe R, I guess I wasn’t smart enough to be an engineer so I’ve spent the past 36 years working for the USPS as a letter carrier. It’s been a lot of work in all kinds of weather, but at almost 65 years of age, I’m in pretty good physical condition for it. A lot of us people don’t do those creative and interesting jobs, so we end up working in quiet desperation as a way to make a living. If machines replace boring and repetitive jobs what are people going to do to make a living? If artificial intelligence replaces the creative and interesting jobs what are those people going to do to make a living? People will always need some way to make a living. Someday, do we all buy ourselves “slave machines” to place in factories and businesses as a way to make a living for ourselves? Or, do huge numbers of people end up on the streets with no way to make a living and end up starving?

    Joe R, I suppose what I am getting at is this – are we as humans allowing technology to make us obsolete? I hope not.

    I took care of my mother for 5 years. Are you caring for her in your home or hers? There are rules in the Medicaid laws you might need to be aware of.

  • Joe R.

    Ever heard of universal basic income? That’s what’s needed once automation makes large numbers of jobs obsolete. It’ll be a better world when people don’t have to do drudge work just to put a roof over their heads, and work, such as it is, is just creative stuff to earn extra money. I did those “uncreative” jobs myself at times, and hated every minute of every day.

    My home is my mom’s home. Never had my own place, never saw any good reason to move out given how expensive housing is. She doesn’t qualify for Medicaid so any Medicaid laws are moot. I wish she did. Medicaid would be paying me to take care of her.

  • joe

    is true..can’t legally be given a ticket while using a federal vehicle

  • joe

    the truck number is used as the license plate

  • joe

    also people should walk behind a car stopped at an intersection..especially a huge 2 ton,instead of the front..much safer

  • Mr Postman

    OK, you know the difference between Medicare and Medicaid, basically Medicaid being welfare. So, you don’t want to put Mom into a nursing home because the house is still in her name, right? If you put her into a nursing home, your state’s Medicaid will suck the equity out of the home because she has an asset. Unless her retirement is enough to cover nursing home costs, Medicaid and estate recovery will take the home and any other assets. If I’m correct on most of this, I was in the same situation. The house was in my Mother’s name, there was a 5-year window in my state to get it switched into my name, and we all hoped Mom would someday pass on peacefully in her sleep before she went to the nursing home… which didn’t happen. If this sounds familiar, let me know.

  • Paula

    Not true. One of my coworkers was ticketed for speeding while driving a mail truck. Postal drivers/vehicles are not exempt from motor vehicle laws.

  • Joe R.

    That’s pretty much sums it up but I wouldn’t want my mom in a nursing home even if we were millionaires. She was in one of those places for about two months after she had cranial hematoma surgery about 1.5 years ago. They’re just horrible places, both for the person living there, and for those who visit them. She’s much happier being home.

    Also note in NYS since I’m the primary caretaker and living with her I can have the house put in my name with no look back period as far as Medicaid is concerned. At least that asset can be protected, which is necessary. I can give away her other assets to my siblings and the clock will start ticking on the look back period for Medicaid once I do that. They use the average rate for a nursing home to figure out the look back period. Right now, with her other assets it would be less than two years. So basically, if she stays out of a nursing home for two years we can preserve all her assets. Medicaid would take her entire pension and Social Security income to cover the nursing home, then pay any difference.

    The house is the most important thing. Without the house, I’m out on the streets after my mom goes. I don’t have enough assets to buy a place of my own and cover living expenses. I’ll probably be well into my 60s, perhaps even 70s, when my mom goes, so working isn’t really an option, either. Knowing how human physiology works, the longer she lives, the more likely she’ll go fairly quickly when her health starts failing. People in their 70s or early 80s may linger for many years in nursing homes. If they don’t need to go into a nursing home until their 90s, chances are good it would only be for a matter of weeks or months.

    My mom also have a living will. She specifically said she doesn’t want artificial means used to prolong her life. If the time comes she can’t feed herself and she has no quality of life, she basically specified only maximum pain relief until the lack of sustenance results in her death. This all basically means if/when she gets in such a bad state I can no longer care for her at home, she’ll be gone in a matter of weeks. The nursing home of course would want to tube feed her and keep her around to make more money, but I have the living will to prevent that. It’s still best for all concerned if she just goes peacefully in her sleep, but hopefully not for a long while. She still has a good quality of life.

  • Mr Postman

    It sounds like you already have an elder law attorney. If you don’t, get one as soon as possible. They will definitely help you. I’m glad I hired one, he knew his stuff. I got my mother’s home after she died because I was a caregiving child in her home for over 2 years. You will also need a doctor’s affidavit saying she needed your help to remain at home. The elder law attorney assisted me with the power of attorney, filling out the Medicaid application correctly, and making sure I got the house with a deed-on-death when mom died.

    Sure, you’d like to keep your mom at home as long as you can, but it is a LONG-TERM commitment. You never know what can happen. I wouldn’t recommend it for everybody. I fell into the job because she wanted to stay at home, and my other brothers and sisters didn’t want to take care of her. I was divorced, so I was able to take the job. As time went by, her health declined. Brittle bones and rapid dementia forced me to put her into a nursing home. Between a full-time job and taking care of her, it was too much. She lived almost a year at the nursing home before she passed on, peacefully in her sleep.

  • Joe R.

    You’re in a somewhat different situation than me. I was living with my parents since I was born, other than 3 semesters in college, and I’ve been working at home for the last 28 years. I fell into taking care of my mother because my brother and sister both have full-time jobs, plus neither is able to deal with the physical demands of lifting her long-term. In fact, my sister had a knee replacement last year, so she was certainly in no shape to help anyone. Yes, it’s a long-term commitment and I’ve been doing it for over 5 years, although the last 16 months is more intense because she can’t walk without assistance. I obviously couldn’t be doing this if I had a full-time job. I couldn’t even leave her alone long enough to go to work. I can go out and run errands for an hour and change, but that’s about as long as I feel comfortable leaving her on her own.

    I need an elder care attorney to handle the logistics of everything I mentioned. There may be immediate tax consequences transferring my mother’s assets since a lot of is mutual funds and the like. I’ll keep the house in my mom’s name for now since I know I can transfer it to me right away with no look-back period if her condition worsens. Keeping it in her name saves a lot in real estate taxes since she’s eligible for the Senior Citizen’s Homeowners Exemption. If she’s still around when I turn 65 and can get the exemption under my name, then I’ll transfer the house to me regardless of her health. That’s still over 8 years away.

    My mom’s cognitive functioning is such that she can no longer take care of her basic needs but it’s been stable for a few years. She’s not really getting better or worse. In fact, the hematoma operation marginally improved things.

    Anyway, this is a situation nobody should really have to endure but aging and decline are part of life. I know I’ll have nobody to care for me if I ever get in a state like my mom so I’ve basically planned to off myself before I get to the state where I’d be in a nursing home. Hopefully though I’ll be fully functional almost to the end. Or science will invent measures to slow and/or reverse aging, which is something I honestly think we need to do, or the demands of caring for the elderly will overwhelm society.

  • Mr Postman

    Get an elder law attorney (ELA). I cannot stress this enough. I went to 2 local lawyers in my town, one of them was a judge for many years. They didn’t know about the Medicaid caregiver child exemption on the home. Luckily, I hired my ELA in a larger town in the nick of time before mom had to go to the nursing home. It was hectic for 5 years. Like you, I couldn’t go anyplace for but for a few hours. Mom was invalid all that time. We had to get a hydraulic lift to get her out of bed.

    Actually, under Medicaid’s caregiver child exemption, if you get an ELA to assist you, your mom can go to a nursing home anytime you feel it is better for both of you, and you still get to keep the house. 24 months is the magic number. It’s an incentive to keep people out of nursing homes and to reward children who take care of their parent(s). Also, I remember if mom has a pre-paid funeral plan, Medicaid cannot touch that. Don’t keep $10,000 of mom’s money in the bank, give it to Medicaid on entry to the nursing home, and later have to cough up more money for her funeral.

    Again, get an elder law attorney. If they know their stuff, their job is to help you inherit and keep as much as you can. From my experience, Medicaid won’t tell you anything. They will take as much as they can from you. One final note – since you are the caregiver child, don’t share anything with your siblings, especially the home. Far as I know, there can be only 1 caregiver child under the Medicaid law so you don’t have to share the home with anybody. My brother wanted me to sell the house after mom died and split the money with him. I didn’t. I did all the work, so I kept it all. Below is a link to a website that tells more about the Medicaid exemption on the house. Good Luck!

    https://www.payingforseniorcare.com/medicaid/caregiver-child-exemption.html

  • Joe R.

    Thanks for the advice!

    Are you sure about the house? That’s actually a sore point between me and my siblings. My mother’s will divides everything three ways, including the house. They’ll insist on their share when the time comes, and I just don’t have it to give them. Naturally, if I transfer the home to myself prior to my mom’s death, it’s not in her estate but then they might claim I abused my power-of-attorney, or acted in my own self-interest. Like you, I’ve given up having any semblance of a life, and will continue to do so for as long as my mother is alive, so I think it’s more than fair I get the house for my troubles. I even offered to split all the other stuff between just the two of them, so long as I get the house free and clear.

    I’ve already passed that 24 month test. My mom’s doctor can easily verify she needed assistance to remain at home for at least the last five years.

  • shaggy99

    WRONG. theres a number right on the truck, they know exactly who drove what and what day. They are also inspected every year. The amount of plates that would be needed for the P.O is why they dont have them.

  • Mr Postman

    What my elder law attorney did back then was provide a deed-upon-death with my name on it as the beneficiary when mom was alive. I did tell the lawyer my brother and I were supposed to share the property according to mom’s will, but he declined to put my brother’s name on the deed. I’m thinking it’s because there can be only 1 caregiver child under the Medicaid law. Since my name was on the deed, I think that trumped her will. Now, I’m not an attorney but I think the main purpose of having a will probated is to get the name of the deceased off a property and the names of the heirs on it for new ownership. With a deed-upon-death, the beneficiary’s name is already on it. I remember the lawyer saying it didn’t have to be probated. Just take it to the register of deeds and have it recorded in your name after death occurs, which was what I did 10 years ago.

    I can understand the sore point between you and your siblings. But they should understand you are not just putting your time in to care for your mother. You’re putting in a big part of your life. As I told my brother, I was the only child available to take care of mother. If I had sent her to the nursing home when she became disabled, there wouldn’t be a house for us all to piss and moan over.

    Joe R, you’re the only one who is making it possible for your mother to live at home. How much would long-term care in a nursing home cost? How much would it cost to hire people to stay with your mother while you and your siblings worked jobs? Would your siblings happily share those costs with you? Joe, this world is full of people who would rather not lift a finger when work has to be done, but when payday comes around, they’re the first ones to hold out their hand for a paycheck. I guess what made me decide to keep as much as I could was I remembered aside from the nurses who came to help, I was the only one who cleaned up my dear mother every day for 5 years when she shit the bed. I was the only one who took her to the doctor. I cooked for her, I did the laundry, I fed her when she couldn’t and for what reason? It was because I still love and miss my mother. I didn’t beg for power of attorney. Nobody else wanted that job either. Whenever my siblings thought I wasn’t doing a good enough job, I told them I’d gladly turn the job over to them, and that was the end of that.

    Go visit with an elder law attorney ASAP. Let them know what YOU want. You’re the one who’s working for their inheritance.

  • Mr Postman

    Joe, I did a little checking. If you’re in New York, a deed on death or transfer on death is not permissible like they are in my state. However, I’m sure an elder law attorney can use something else to transfer title to you.

    Also by law, contracts supersede the terms of your will. Therefore, the beneficiary of your transfer-on-death receives that money or property, even if you state in your will that you’re leaving the money or property to someone else. The same holds true for all your beneficiaries by contract. That’s what I thought.

    My brother was not happy when I did not sell mother’s house to split the proceeds with him. I always thought he talked to an attorney about it, but I’m thinking he was informed the house was mine in the end. Perhaps his lawyer made a comment such as, “Your brother solely took care of your mother for 5 years and you expect him to give you half of what he worked for?

  • Joe R.

    Thanks for the info. In the end, I was hoping my brother and sister would voluntarily forgo their share of the house so I don’t have to jump through legal hoops. That may still happen if I show them that I can probably get an attorney to set things up the way you described. They may realize it’s not worth the fight. I’ve already mentioned to them if they insist on getting their share, they’ll lose a brother one way or another. If I’m forced to sell the house, and thereafter basically be homeless because I don’t have the means to both buy a place to live AND pay living expenses, I’ll probably kill myself. Even if not, I’ll never talk to either one of them again. In the end I feel I’m offering them a good deal—half of all her other assets each. That’s more than enough for each of them to pay off their houses. My mother was surprisingly good at saving and investing money even though she wasn’t able to work past her mid 40s.

    Another question—when you had your mom’s house transferred to you upon her death were there any fees or taxes due? One of my mom’s cousin’s claims every time a house is transferred, there’s a transfer tax of 20% of the market value. I doubt it but that could be another fly in the ointment.

  • Joe R.

    Everything you mentioned is exactly what I said to my siblings. A nursing home would have run about $150K annually. Around the clock in-home care of the type I’m giving would easily be $250 per day, or at least $90K annually. Since I’ve been doing this over 5 years do the math. A nursing home basically would have already exhausted the value of the house and we would be working on her other assets, which would be gone in less than 18 months. In-home care would have already wiped out half her net worth. If she lives another 5 years, which seems pretty likely, again, there would be nothing to split.

    The usual retort is but you lived there rent free all your adult life. Sure, that’s true but I did lots of stuff around the house like gardening, ceramic tile, electric work, etc. which probably equaled the cost of whatever support my parents gave me. On top of that, the same option was open to my brother and sister. My parents didn’t kick them out. They left of their own accord but they were welcome to stay. Besides, the extra I cost my parents was just food and electricity. I bought all my other stuff. In today’s dollars maybe the value of their support was $300 a month. My brother left at 29, my sister at 24. If you assume the “extra” support I got started at halfway between that, maybe at age 26, up until my mother needed care when I was around 51, that’s 25 years times $3,600 per year, or $90,000. The value of one year of my in-home care offsets that.

    I guess what made me decide to keep as much as I could was I remembered aside from the nurses who came to help, I was the only one who cleaned up my dear mother every day for 5 years when she shit the bed.

    Well, yes, there’s that, too. Thankfully for now, she does most of her #2 in the toilet. There’s a poop incident maybe once a month on average, but it’s yet another thing which I’m sure neither of them would care to deal with. And we don’t have money for anybody to come in. I’m doing this all myself. My brother cooks a lot of her food, which is a help, but everything else is on me.

    And yeah, I’ve gotten the occasional “you’re not doing a good enough job”, even though my mother is always clean, well-fed, and happy.

  • Jeff

    Never believe anything, about anything, any postal official says. Lying is a major part of their job.
    They are also never held accountable for anything, including the vast sums they waste and steal annually.
    On top of that, they are receiving LARGE annual bonuses. If the USPS is broke, why are they receiving bonuses ?

  • Mr Postman

    Either their death or when the time comes when you can no longer take care of them. Joe, as far as I can tell you are the only one of your mother’s children who can take care of her and who has met the guidelines for the caregiver child exemption. If your brother or sister decided to take over, I think the 24-month clock starts over again for them. A big requirement for the exemption is the child has to live with their parent in the parent’s home, not the other way around. If mom moves in with them, that kills the deal. It makes sense because the carrot-on-a-stick is, a son or daughter would be rewarded with title to their parent’s home.

    Again, I will stress I am not an attorney. I’m only telling you what I went through with my mother. Your state probably has different laws regarding taxes, so I don’t know. I didn’t pay any taxes because I kept mom’s home as my principal residence for longer than 2 years. Actually, I’m still here and I think when you keep the home as your principal residence for longer than 2 years it’s just like selling a home you bought yourself. The first $250,000 is exempt from taxes for a single taxpayer, $500,000 for a married couple filing jointly.

    Again, your questions would be better answered by a elder law attorney who specializes in these matters. Do not hire any attorney. Get an “ELDER LAW ATTORNEY” because they can no doubt help you with other aspects of your mother’s estate.

    I will say as your mother becomes older, your situation could change overnight. She could pass on, and you probably would have to share her home and estate with your brother and sister according to her will unless you get the caregiver child exemption and a way for the title to her home to transfer to you upon her death. She could become disabled from a fall, stroke, or dementia, and you might have no choice but to place her in a nursing home. I guarantee her health will get worse as time goes by. Be prepared. Go talk with an elder law attorney. I’ve helped other people in the past who spent years taking care of a parent by recommending they hire an elder law attorney.

  • Hopeisnot_A_Plan

    What makes you think that managers get large annual bonuses?

  • Hopeisnot_A_Plan

    Without all those packages to deliver you would not have a job.

  • Hopeisnot_A_Plan

    That is not correct. Fed vehicles are not to be ticketed if they are being used in the performance of job duties. Speeding, reckless driving, etc. are not required by the job. It is actually contained in the US Constitution, but it does not cover every driving offense.

  • Jeff

    Because they’ve told me so and showed me the same. One year, three of them came in waving their statements in our faces.

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