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Driver + Coney Island Avenue = More Death

8:00 AM EDT on August 26, 2019

Even on a Google street view, the entrance to the parking garage is a chaotic place. But that’s Coney Island Avenue for you. Photo: Google

Another person has been killed on deadly Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn, as a driver ran over a man who had been lying on the sidewalk near the entrance to a parking garage at a local dialysis center, cops said.

The NYPD only offered preliminary information about the Monday morning fatality — and even the name of the victim has not yet been released.

But the death is the fourth high-profile incident involving an inattentive or reckless driver on or near the roadway in recent months. Earlier this month, Jose Alzorriz was killed after a speeding driver slammed into another car at such high speed that the car went airborne and struck the cyclist as he awaited a red light at Avenue L.

And in July, pedestrian Maria Del Carmen Porras-Hernandez was struck and killed at Church Avenue. Two days later, another pedestrian was struck on Church and E. Fifth Street about three blocks away.

Surveillance video shows the moment of impact. Photo: Umar Altaf via YouTube
Surveillance video shows the moment just before Jose Alzorriz (right) was killed. Photo: Umar Altaf via YouTube

The circumstances of the latest crash on Coney Island Avenue are more murky at this time. According to the NYPD, the unnamed 49-year-old victim was "lying on the sidewalk near the entrance to a parking garage" next to a kidney center at 1122 Coney Island Avenue at around 12:35 a.m.

"He was possibly intoxicated or possibly sleeping," and NYPD spokesman told Streetsblog. "As the occupant of the car pulled into the garage, he inadvertently hit him."

Streetsblog asked a series of follow-up questions — was the 65-year-old driver distracted by music or someone else in his car, was the driver on his phone, was the driver speeding, was the driver himself high or on drugs, did the operator's 2019 Honda Odyssey have working headlights — but only got one response.

"I do know he was the sole occupant of the vehicle," the spokesman said.

There were no arrests and the investigation is ongoing, the NYPD said in a statement.

One thing that does not need an investigation is that Coney Island Avenue is a killing and crash zone. In 2015, the city declared the entire 5.5-mile stretch of Coney Island Avenue a pedestrian safety priority corridor. And since then, the city has made some minor improvements, including refuge islands at Roder Avenue and Avenues N and O; a re-designed intersection at Guider Avenue; better markings and signal timing at Brighton Beach Avenue; a new signal at Hinckley Avenue intersection; improved bus operations by making Quentin Road one way; and a better design of the Cortelyou Road intersection.

Yet, according to an update of the plan issued this year, DOT's own data show that the number of pedestrians killed or severely injured per mile — what DOT calls KSI — actually went up, from an average of 7.7 per year from 2009 to 2013 to an average of 8.4 from 2012 to 2016.

To drill down on that a bit more: Between 2016 and 2018 — the three full years since Coney Island Avenue was named a priority corridor — there were 1,988 crashes with 553 total injuries (including two fatalities — which doesn't count this year's three deaths). That's up from 1,596 crashes with 438 total injuries (plus three pedestrian deaths) from 2013 to 2015, the three full years before it was named a priority corridor.

Cars double park with impunity on the block. Photo by Dave Colon
Cars double park with impunity on the block of Coney Island Avenue between Avenues K and L. Photo by Dave Colon

Meanwhile, local elected officials are demanding more improvements. Earlier this month, the city hurriedly announced it would add a painted bike lane to the roadway, but offered few details.

Despite the above-mentioned improvements, Coney Island Avenue remains a chaotic mess, with limited enforcement of rampant double parking and speeding. The roadway is on the extreme edge of several police precincts, giving it a lawless, frontier-like feeling most days.

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