Cyclist Critically Wounded by Driver in 2016 Has Died of His Injuries

Photo: Paul Martinka
Photo: Paul Martinka

A Borough Park boy who was struck by a driver on his way to synagogue nearly three years ago has died of his injuries, Streetsblog has learned.

Moshe Yehuda Wolpin was hit at the corner of Dahill and Cortelyou roads on Sept. 14, 2016 — and spent every day since shuttling in and out of hospitals and clinics, yet never recovered. His death on July 1, 2019, is a reminder that for every cyclist fatality that makes the news — and there were three in a single week from June 24-July 1 — hundreds of New Yorkers are seriously injured by drivers and suffer for weeks, months or, as in Moshe’s case, years.

“He was transferred to various facilities over the past three years until he was Niftar on Monday evening,” Boro Park 24 reported, using the Hebrew word for died.

Several other outlets had covered the crash, and Moshe’s death will be counted in the city’s 2016 fatality figures, bringing the death count of cyclists to 19 that year. Fifteen cyclists have been killed so far this year, prompting the mayor to finally announce his intention of unveiling new enforcement and road safety regimes from the NYPD and Department of Transportation.

Moshe Yehuda Wolpin's helmet after the then-11-year-old was hit and critically wounded by a driver in Brooklyn in 2016. Photo: Paul Martinka
Moshe Yehuda Wolpin’s helmet after the then-11-year-old was hit and critically wounded by a driver in Brooklyn in 2016. Photo: Paul Martinka

The Lexus driver in Moshe’s case was never charged with causing the boy’s injuries, whose severity suggest a motorist at high speeds. The post-crash photo of Moshe’s helmet does so as well.

Amy Cohen of Families for Safe Streets, who lost her own son, Sammy, to road violence, called Moshe’s death especially “heart-wrenching.”

“There is so much suffering from this epidemic,” she said. “The years of heartache after a loss, after injuries which lead to a lifetime of suffering or a life cut short. It is unimaginable that traffic violence is not recognized for the preventable crisis that it is. Our leaders need to declare that we have a state of emergency and put in place every proven solution.”

Mary Beth Kelly, who was biking home from dinner with her husband, Carl Henry Nacht, when he was run over and killed by a tow truck on the Hudson River Greenway, said that the 4,000 serious injuries sustained on New York City streets every year are simply “life altering.”

“But never did two words contain in them such unspeakable loss,” she added. “Consider severe acute and chronic pain, multiple surgeries, brain injury, spinal cord severing, and amputations. Many can never do meaningful work again, play a sport, parent a child, attend school, ride a bike.”

Victims of extreme injuries that require intense medical intervention show “perseverance and resolve” that are simply unfathomable, she added.

“Theirs is the on-going daily struggle to carry on despite what chronic suffering, what loss of functioning and more medical interventions they must endure, and endure,” Kelly added.

“My husband’s death shook my family to its core, and in many ways will always demarcate the before and the after in our lives. But I find my heart seizing up when I read about a boy like Moshe Yehuda Wolpin for whom there was never a pause, never a reprieve from suffering except in death. There was no reprieve for his family either, and now, for them the suffering of loosing him begins. How shameful. How devastating. Let us be judged by how we respond to this insidious crisis in our midst.”

Moshe’s death is the second in as many months of a cyclist who succumbed to injuries well after the initial crash.

On June 4, Citi Bike rider Victor Ang died of wounds he suffered in a crash on the West Side of Manhattan a month and a half earlier. After being hit by a truck driver, Ang had been taken to Bellevue Hospital with injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening.

But initial police reports are often wrong.

  • Joe R.

    This has me thinking how many other injuries from prior years eventually resulted in premature deaths but weren’t counted as such. I’m thinking of traumatic injuries which affect major organs enough not to kill within weeks or months, but which have diminished functions and kill you years or decades before you otherwise would have died.

  • Isaac B

    Sad.

    Ironically, bigots and bike-haters, such as young Mr. Wolpin’s former State Assemblyperson Dov Hikind, have repeatedly thrown out the claim that the figures for people killed by cyclists are underreported “because you can knock someone over and they break a hip and they die a year later from complications”. Overlooking (or hoping that you’ll miss) that this likely happens at least 100x for people hit by cars and trucks.

  • Joe R.

    One thing I really find galling with those kind of claims is that they fail to take into account the fact cyclists can get hurt worse than someone they hit. As a result, people getting hit by bikes isn’t a common occurrence. It’s certainly not so common that the numbers dying a year or two after getting hit by cyclists would make any significant difference.

    Also, most of those who die from complications from broken hips are the elderly. As a group, the elderly tend to fall a lot more than everyone else. Who’s to say a person hit by a bike got the broken hip later on due to a fall? Or perhaps a fall turned the broken hip from something they would have recovered from into something fatal.

    Finally, it’s difficult even for doctors to link a person’s death to a specific event years after the fact. In this case, it looks like the kid suffered major brain trauma, and that was likely what ultimately killed him. It’s pretty clear cut if not for getting hit, he would be alive and in good health today. It’s not that clear cut for many other incidents, especially with the elderly. For example, suppose my late father got hit by a car and suffered a broken hip two years before he died. Heart failure is one of the known complications of broken hips but my father in this case had heart problems long before this hypothetical incident. He had his first heart attack at 54, and was obese besides. Who’s to say these things wouldn’t have been what killed him, and not a hypothetical hip fracture? The thing is the elderly and/or unhealthy are frail to start with. They might die at any time for no apparent reason. It’s much easier to link a death years after the fact if the person was young and healthy before the incident.

  • PDiddy

    Injuries need to start being cataloged and the severity of the injury needs to be documented in some meaningful way, right along side the death count. Sometimes these injuries are worse than dying.

  • PDiddy

    Or making you live a life a shell of your former self. Not being able to take care of yourself and having your loved ones take care of you is something I can’t even put a dollar figure on in damages.

    It is life altering and our statistic gathering is ridiculously inadequate in that regard.

  • Joe R.

    Yes, and that’s something I can relate to on a personal level. For the last few years, my mother has required my constant care for her most basic needs. Of course, she’s 80 and this is often expected for people her age. When a formerly functional younger person with many good years ahead of them suddenly ends up needing care for the rest of their life simply due to being hit by a motor vehicle, it’s tragic beyond words. I’ll also bet the numbers of people who are that severely injured by motor vehicles dwarf the numbers killed by a huge margin.

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