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Scofflaw Driver Kills Man in Manhattan Crosswalk, But Cops Issue No Charges

File photo: Dave Colon

A driver ran over and killed a 61-year-old man in a Manhattan crosswalk — but cops are already absolving the driver of any wrongdoing, telling the press that he "didn't realize" he had hit anyone.

It's a time-honored tale — driver kills pedestrian, then claims he or she didn't know — followed by a police narrative that exonerates the driver based almost always on the testimony of the driver alone. That's especially true in cases of serious injury when the victim is not on the scene to speak for him or herself.

And that's apparently the case here: According to police and media reports, the pedestrian was crossing Eighth Avenue at W. 40th Street at around 11:15 p.m. on Nov. 7 when he fainted in the middle of the roadway. It is unclear if that medical episode occurred. Police declined to answer questions about it.

The light turned green and the unidentified 24-year-old driver drove through the intersection, running over the victim he claimed not to see. He kept driving his 2018 white Honda Accord, according to police, but then stopped just north of the intersection and looked around for anything he may have hit, or if his car had any damage. But "due to the flow of traffic and vehicles behind the operator, he did not notice any damage or anyone struck," the NYPD said in a statement.

The driver then left the scene, but police claim it wasn't a hit-and-run, per se, because, again, the driver "did not appear to know that he had struck anyone," according to NYPD spokesman Det. Martin Brown.

Brown said cops were able to quickly catch up to the car and interview the driver based on descriptions from eyewitnesses — video posted by Loudlabs.com shows the white car with identifiable paraphernalia on its front window, plus what appears to be a Taxi and Limousine Commission license plate, implying that the driver likely works for a ride-share company. It's unclear if officers were aware that the car in question has received three speeding tickets — all of which were acquired in a four-day period in September, according to a plate number posted by Loudlabs.com.

TLC did not immediately respond to a request for comment if it is also investigating the fatal crash and driver, but a spokeswoman told Streetsblog the agency is looking into it.

In the meantime, paramedics showed up and rushed the victim — whose name police have yet to identify — to Bellevue hospital, where he died from his injuries on Nov. 17.

It's certainly not the first time a motorist has evoked the magic words that they "didn't know" or "didn't see" that they had hit anyone. Back in April, police took a hit-and-run driver's word for it after he hit and killed a woman in Flatbush, and last July, cops similarly only caught up with the driver, who fatally ran over a 4-year-old girl in Bushwick, a few blocks away from the scene of the fatal collision and issued no tickets.

Brown said cops issued no summons or tickets, and he could not immediately answer any questions about whether the driver was speeding, listening to music, or was distracted in another way when he hit the victim — but it is clear that he was not looking at the road in front of him, which would make him subject to a charge of failure to exercise due care, at the least. Brown said the investigation is ongoing.

Since 2017, there have been 156 crashes near the intersection of W. 40th Street and Eighth Avenue alone, causing 29 injuries, including five cyclists and 11 pedestrians, according to CrashMapper.

Pedestrian deaths are up by double-digit percentages this year.

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