Brooklyn’s top prosecutor says that he is investigating the crash that this week killed a 10-year-old boy on his way home from school in Midwood.
“This incident is under investigation,”Oren Yaniv, spokesman for Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, said on Wednesday.
Yaniv said that Gonzalez had visited the scene on Ocean Avenue near Avenue L a few hours after the 59-year-old driver — identified by the New York Post as 60-year-old Alexander Katchaloft — suddenly “veered to the right,” hopped the curb, and fatally struck the little boy, Enzo Farachio, who was waiting for the bus at about 2:45 p.m.
Yaniv's announcement of an investigation came after police tried to shift blame for the fatal crash onto the dead child, telling news outlets that the youngster was “looking at his phone and did not see the vehicle coming” as the out-of-control driver approached. Police also seemed to bend over backward to make excuses for the driver — saying that he may have suffered what they termed "a medical episode." A police department spokeswoman declined to elaborate on the kind or duration of the episode, citing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
After striking Farachio, the driver and his grey Lexus SUV careened into an Ocean Avenue building, causing scaffolding around the structure to collapse. He also injured a young passenger in his vehicle.
Prosecutors and police have not made any arrests or issued any tickets. Cops would not answer questions about whether the driver was speeding or distracted, but the twisted wreck and destroyed scaffolding suggest that he may have been going above Ocean Avenue’s 25 miles-per-hour speed limit. Moreover, the car he was driving recently had racked up four school-zone speed-camera violations.
The fatal crash, which was caught on video, reminded some of the horrific moments in August when speeding motorist Mirza Baig, 18, crashed into another vehicle, snuffing the life of cyclist Jose Alzorriz, On Aug. 11, Baig flew down Coney Island Avenue, ran a red light at Avenue L, and T-boned a minivan that then slammed into Alzorriz as he waited on his bike for the light to turn green.
Both Alzorriz and Farachio were obeying the rules as their lives ended — waiting innocently in their allotted street space as other road users turned their cars into lethal weapons.
"This tragedy is testament to the fact that there is virtually no place in the city where residents are safe from the onslaught of cars — not in the crosswalk, not in the bike lane, not even on the sidewalk," said Danny Harris, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. "Crashes like these are not accidents, but the preventable and predictable result of a city where cars, not people, are the priority. As a result, children like this 10-year-old boy and hundreds of others pay the price with their lives each and every year."
The crash that killed Farachio reminded some of another fatal encounter between a motorist and pedestrians in Brooklyn — March 2018 Park Slope crash in which out-of-control motorist Dorothy Bruns fatally struck four-year-old Abigail Blumenstein and 20-month-old Joshua Lew and injured their mothers, Ruthie Ann Blumenstein and Lauren Lew. That crash also took the life of Blumenstein's unborn child months later.
Prosecutors discovered that Bruns should never have been on the road because of a medical condition — and charged her with manslaughter and homicide. Bruns later killed herself.
Gonzalez said that his office had charged another driver who suffered a medical episode while behind the wheel, and that prosecutors are now scrutinizing Katchaloft's medical history.
“We’re investigating. We’re being told that it was a potential medical situation," Gonzalez said at the scene, according to the Daily News. “As you’re awarem we’ve had two prior cases since I’ve been the D.A. where someone had a medical episode. And we’re going to be looking into whether or not in fact that was the case, and whether or not the person should be behind the wheel.”
Farachio is at least the 150th person killed on the streets of New York City this year — a 17 percent jump from 2018, according to the Department of Transportation.