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It’s 26! Another Cyclist Killed and Driver is Not Charged

8:21 AM EDT on October 18, 2019

The fatal intersection of Rockaway Freeway and B. 94th Street. Photo: Google

A Queens cyclist who was hit by the driver of a massive Ford van in the Rockaways last month has died of her injuries — and the driver was not charged, police said.

Ada Martinez, 66, was cycling westbound on the hellish Rockaway Freeway at around 7:45 p.m. on Sept. 27, police said. She had the green light as she attempted to turn onto B. 94th Street, but so did the driver of the Ford E-250 van, who was driving eastbound on the dangerous roadway.

Police gave scant — and contradictory details — about what happened next, using language to exonerate the driver.

A 2012 Ford E-250 van, operated by a 40-year-old male, was traveling east bound on Rockaway Freeway with a steady green light, continuing straight across the intersection of Beach 94 Street. The bicyclist was traveling west bound on Rockaway Freeway also with a green traffic signal, and traveling in a designated bike lane. The bicyclist attempted to make a left turn onto south bound Beach 94 Street, directly in the path of [the van]. The bicyclist veered towards the right to avoid striking the van, and in turn fell to the ground, becoming separated from the bicycle. The bicyclist was then subsequently struck by the van.

Martinez was taken to Jamaica Hospital with severe head and body trauma. She died there on Oct. 12. The van driver, whose name was not released, remained on the scene and was not charged.

Streetsblog called the NYPD on Friday morning for the following information:

    • Was the driver speeding?
    • Was he distracted by his phone, loud music or a passenger?
    • What and how many interviews were conducted to build the narrative issued to the media — or was the report based solely on the testimony of the driver?
    • Is there video?

None of these questions was answered.

"You really want to get into the weeds on this," a police spokesman said, adding that Streetsblog should seek more formal information via email (which we have done).

It's certainly not the first time the NYPD has put out a narrative that exonerates the driver and is based mostly, if not entirely, on the testimony of that same driver. On Friday, Streetsblog reported that the NYPD had initially blamed cyclist MD Abul Bashar for causing the crash that led to his death by claiming he was riding on the sidewalk — only to secretly amend that report to make it clear that Bashar was riding properly.

The NYPD says the investigation into the Martinez death "remains ongoing."

Last year, there were 32 crashes in the short Rockaway Beach portion of the Rockaway Freeway, which has poor visibility for pedestrians, drivers and cyclists because it is beneath the elevated A train. One cyclist, one pedestrian and six motorists were injured on just a dozen blocks in those 12 months.

Martinez is the 26th cyclist to die on New York City roads thus far this year. In all of 2018, 10 cyclists were killed.

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