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Cyclist Facing One Year in Jail for Fatally Striking Midtown Pedestrian

7:19 AM EST on November 7, 2019

File photo: Dave Colon|

Photo: Dave Colon

The cyclist who allegedly knocked down and killed a Midtown pedestrian in April was hit with charges that could land him in jail for a year — a type of punishment that seems to fits the allegations, but one far more severe than drivers typically face for the same crime.

The NYPD said late on Wednesday that it had charged Dameon Doward, 41, with second degree reckless endangerment, a top-level misdemeanor, for running a red light on April 24 and hitting Donna Sturm, knocking her to the ground and causing head injuries that led to her death a few days later.

State law defines says a person has engaged in reckless endangerment in the second degree "when he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person."

Donna Sturm. Photo: Facebook
Donna Sturm. Photo: Facebook
Donna Sturm

That matches the allegation against Doward, who, according to police, ran a red light at the mid-block traffic signal on W. 57th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues. Sturm was in the crosswalk when Doward allegedly hit her. He remained on the scene and was only issued a ticket for the red light.

It is unclear what other details cops considered in the time since the crash and Wednesday night's announcement of the more serious charges against Doward.

The reckless endangerment charge is a serious one — and one that many street safety activists have long demanded also be applied to drivers, who have killed more than 90 pedestrians and 26 cyclists this year. The rarity of charges against drivers is one reason that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance recently announced a bid to strengthen state law so that investigators no longer have to prove criminal intent to get charges against reckless drivers.

Sturm is one of two pedestrians this year who died after being hit by cyclists, cops said. The other alleged perpetrator hit Michael Collopy, who was standing in a crowded bike lane on Sixth Avenue and 23rd Street, knocking down the pedestrian, who later died of his injuries. That cyclist fled.

Activists have used the deaths to call for safer road designs that don't cram pedestrians and cyclists into crowded spaces at the edges of roadways, putting them into conflict with each other, even when they are the dominant road users on some streets.

After Sturm's death, Hindy Schachter, whose husband Irving Schachter was killed in 2014 by a teen biker in Central Park, wrote on Streetsblog that "cyclists are not the problem — poor street design is, and it’s killing people."

And after Collopy was hit, activists pointed out that there so many pedestrians and cyclists on Sixth Avenue in Chelsea that a tiny cement "pedestrian island" is far too little space.

This is a breaking story and will be updated later.

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