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UWS Woman Killed By Driver — Another Hole in the Neighborhood Fabric

5:22 PM EST on December 23, 2019

Ellyn Berman and friends during a yoga retreat. Photo provided by family.

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A beloved Upper West Side senior hit earlier this month by a reckless driver as she walked in a crosswalk died of her injuries last week — the latest tear in the fabric of a neighborhood that leaves yet another family with an empty chair this holiday season.

Police said that on Dec. 7, the driver of a 2016 RAM truck fatally struck 85-year-old Ellyn Berman as she crossed Broadway in the crosswalk near W. 61st Street at about 3 p.m. Berman died from her injuries on Dec. 16.

"I want everyone to know that my mom was a physically and socially vibrant 85-year old woman who swam and did yoga regularly," her son John Berman wrote in her obituary, which he shared with Streetsblog. "My mother was especially gifted in making people feel welcome and of being the supreme host at family gatherings for as long as I can remember."

The unidentified person behind the wheel of the pickup truck — which weighs between 4,500 and 5,600 pounds — hit Berman as he or she turned left on a "green traffic signal” onto Broadway, which is a four-lane roadway in each direction. The circumstances suggest that Berman also had the signal in her favor as the driver turned left into her. The color of the light is meaningless anyway; pedestrians always have the right of way in a crosswalk.

Nonetheless, cops did not issue any tickets and would not answer questions about whether the driver was speeding or distracted. In a related statistic, the Department of Transportation revealed last week that men in big pickup trucks or SUVs are a menace on the road and cause a disproportionate amount of the carnage.

Ellyn Berman practicing yoga. Photo provided by family.
Ellyn Berman practicing yoga. Photo provided by family.

Berman's death came just days before hundreds of people packed an Upper West Side funeral home on Sunday to mourn another beloved local, Daniel Cammerman — a pediatrician, husband, and father of two — who was killed by the driver of a school bus on the 96th Street transverse in Central Park on Dec. 18.

Since last year, there have been a total of 248 crashes on Broadway between W. 60th and W. 79th streets, resulting in 38 injuries, including eight cyclists and 14 pedestrians, according to Crash Mapper.

And Berman is at least the 46th person 65 years or older to be killed by a driver so far this year — meaning that about 21 percent of the city's traffic fatalities were elderly. In just the last week, 85-year-old Brendan Gill and 75-year-old Xue You were fatally struck by cars in Brooklyn, while 67-year-old Zhisheng Lin was killed by a driver while walking on the sidewalk in Queens.

Berman's family sadly joins the hundreds of others whose dinner table will be missing someone this holiday season — Berman is one of 215 people killed by drivers so far this year, a more than 8-percent increase over the 192 people killed by this point last year. Drivers killed six people in half as many days last week.

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