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Bicycle Safety

Trucker With Suspended License Killed a Cyclist — And Got Only Another Suspended License

12:02 AM EDT on October 28, 2019

The last seconds in the life of Aaron Padwee in 2018.

The unlicensed driver who fatally ran over a cyclist two years ago in Long Island City received his final punishment earlier this month — another suspended license.

The father of the slain cyclist, 45-year-old Aaron Padwee, called it “a joke,” that will clearly do nothing to keep driver Agustin Osorio-Torres off the road.

“Why would it?” said Michael Padwee, whose son was killed in May, 2018, when he was run over by the 32-year-old Osorio-Torres after getting doored into the trucker's path by another driver as they both approached 46th Avenue near 21st Street.

State Department of Motor Vehicles Judge Elizabeth Niemi ordered on Oct. 4 that Torres’s license be suspended for 180 days — and that six-month suspension amounts to throwing the book at Osorio-Torres, said the Padwee family lawyer Steve Vaccaro, because the typical DMV suspension is about half that long.

Another license suspension is particularly horrifying for the Padwee family, given that Osorio-Torres did not even have a valid license when he killed Padwee — his license had been suspended in 2015 for failing to answer a summons and for failing to pay a fine, according to a spokesman for the DMV.

People can have multiple suspensions on their records and can "clean" their record merely by paying outstanding fines, which Osorio-Torres failed to do. Now he can't drive at all until this latest suspension is over, the DMV spokesman said.

The first suspension didn't keep Osorio-Torres off the road, so no one expects that this one will, either.

“It obviously did not deter him in any way from driving,” said Vaccaro.

The six-month suspension follows an earlier move by the Queens District Attorney to charge Osorio-Torres with two counts of driving without a license — misdemeanors that come with a maximum of 30 days in prison.

Osorio-Torres ended up pleading guilty to the more minor of the charges last November — and was fined just $75, according to the DA.

So do the math: Osorio-Torres did not have a valid driver's license when he ran over and killed a cyclist, but ended up with only another license suspension and a $75 fine. Worse, it's just the latest example of a weak state law that protects unlicensed drivers who kill, like the unlicensed driver who hit and killed 10-year-old Dalerjon Shahobiddinov as he was riding his bike in Brooklyn earlier this month. That driver will spend no more than a month behind bars.

Unlicensed drivers can only be charged with a felony — which comes with a maximum sentence of four years in jail — under four scenarios:

    • their license had been suspended a total of 10 times
    • they have three suspensions on three separate occasions in addition to driving under the influence
    • they drove under a permanent revocation of the license
    • they drove with a conditional license and under the influence.

None of the scenarios includes hurting or killing another person. But Queens State Senator Michael Gianaris introduced legislation to increase the penalties for killer drivers who are unlicensed for prior bad driving at the time of their deadly actions.

The other driver involved in Padwee's death — driver Louise Bien-Aime, who recklessly opened her door into the cyclist's path — received even less of a punishment than Osorio-Torres. She also had her license suspended for 180 days, but the DA declined to prosecute her for illegally dooring Padwee — even though a video of the fatal incident shows Bien-Aime started the chain of events that led to Padwee's death.

NYPD CIS Investigative File - Video Aaron Padwee Dooring from Vaccaro and White on Vimeo.

Padwee’s father Michael wants every person who gets the behind the wheel to know what happened to his son and to even watch the video — that he cannot himself bear to watch — to learn from Bien-Aime's fatal mistake. He wants everyone to learn the so-called “Dutch reach,” which is a technique to open a car door with your opposite hand so that your head will turn in the direction of the oncoming traffic.

“I’m more interested in the woman who doored Aaron, I’d really like to see things like the Dutch Reach be put into the driving test and driver-ed schools," he said. "It may seem a little strange, but I would like to have the video of how my son was killed also be used as an educational tool in some way — maybe they will learn something.”

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