NYPD: Two People Killed By Truck Drivers Within Hours of Each Other on Tuesday

A cement truck driver killed an elderly woman with a cane in Borough Park last week: Citizen
A cement truck driver killed an elderly woman with a cane in Borough Park last week: Citizen

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Two people were killed in nearly as many hours by the drivers of massive trucks on Tuesday morning — one a 10-year-old boy and the other an elderly woman, a pattern of carnage that picks up where last year left off.  

The first fatal crash occurred at about 7 a.m. when the driver of a city garbage truck hit the boy and his mom as they walked to school on 57th Avenue, near 97th Street, in Corona, police said. The truck driver was exiting out of a driveway before the crash, according to media reports

Paramedics rushed the mom to Elmhurst Hospital in critical condition, and her son, Shree Panthee, died at the hospital, police said.  

Since the start of 2018, there have been 45 reported crashes on the one block of 57th Avenue between 96th and 98th streets in the dangerous neighborhood. In all, 11 people were injured in those crashes, including seven to pedestrians.

The Department of Sanitation has taken the driver off the road and placed him on modified duty, pending an internal investigation.

Since 2015, DSNY drivers have killed four people, including three since 2018, according to agency spokeswoman Dina Montes — a stark difference from the private sanitation industry, whose drivers have killed more than two dozen people since 2016.

The second fatal crash occurred about four hours later in Brooklyn, when 68-year-old Judith Wieder was struck by the driver of a cement truck as she crossed New Utrecht Avenue right before 49th Street. 

Disturbing video posted to Twitter shows Wieder, walking with a cane, start to cross the avenue while the light is still red. Wieder makes it about half-way across, and is directly in front of the massive truck, as the light turns green and the driver hits the gas to head north on New Utrecht Avenue — clearly oblivious to the fact that the woman is right in front of him.

The truck hood obscures the woman entirely — one of the reasons truck drivers were responsible for a plurality of road deaths last year.

The driver from Ferrara Brothers — a Flushing-based concrete company — stayed at the scene. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Since the start of 2018, there have been a total of 25 reported crashes on New Utrecht Avenue between 47th and 49th streets, causing 10 injuries, including three to pedestrians.

In both fatal crashes on Tuesday, police did not issue any tickets or make any arrests. A spokeswoman for the NYPD would not answer Streetsblog’s standard list of questions about whether the drivers were speeding or distracted, despite video proving at least one was not paying attention to the road in front of him.

The boy and elderly woman are now the third and fourth people killed by drivers so far this year. Last year, a total of 219 people, including 122 pedestrians and 29 cyclists, died on New York City streets.

Both kids and the elderly are often the victims of traffic violence — 10-year-old Panthee is the now the seventh child under the age of 11 who has been fatally struck by drivers since January, 2019, and 68-year-old Wieder is now at least the 48th person above age 64 to be killed by someone behind the wheel.

Transportation Alternatives again reiterated the dire need for safer streets, and for Mayor de Blasio to quickly act before another life is lost — instead of just offering his thoughts and prayers.

“Tragedies like these are not accidents, but predictable and preventable results of policies that prioritize moving traffic ahead of protecting people,” said Executive Director Danny Harris. “In moments of crisis, we don’t need hopes and prayers from our elected leaders; we need immediate action. We urge Mayor Bill de Blasio and members of the New York City Council to ensure that every New Yorker has the right to safe passage on our streets, and no New Yorker has to walk in fear.”

Transportation Alternatives will join other safe-street advocates on Saturday for a modern day take on historic marches by mothers seeking to reclaim streets from car drivers and give them back to the people.

Update: This story has been updated to reflect the names of the victims, and to reflect that the 10-year-old boy’s mother’s leg was not amputated, as per initial media reports. 

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