UPDATE: Pedestrian Struck and Killed by Speeding Driver in Bay Ridge
Updated | A pedestrian was run over and killed in a crosswalk on dangerous Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge on Thursday night, cops said.
The NYPD said that a 19-year-old driver of a Mercedes-Benz 350 slammed into 66-year-old Frank Decolvenaere as the pedestrian crossed the multi-lane speedway at 101st Street at around 7 p.m. Cops added that Decolvenaere did not have the light, but provided no supporting evidence.
Local officials, however, say the driver — who remained on the scene and was not charged — had been speeding.
According to the neighborhood’s state senator, Andrew Gounardes, Decolvenaere had been walking his dog in the crosswalk when he was struck by the driver. Another Bay Ridge source who lives nearby said the victim’s blood-covered dog ran about 10 blocks home after the crash, alerting Decolvenaere’s wife that something was wrong.
“I am deeply shaken by [this] death — killed by a speeding driver,” Gounardes said.
“When are we going to WAKE UP, SLOW DOWN, and realize that we are literally killing each other to save a few minutes? Just last week I introduced new safe streets legislation to bring greater consequences for reckless drivers and change the culture of dangerous behavior behind the wheel. There’s so much we have to do — from street redesigns to passing new laws— and we have to act with urgency like lives depend on it.
“I am praying for the victim and his family,” the senator added.
Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge — including the crosswalk where Decolvenaere was killed — is a dangerous roadway, thanks to neighborhood resistance to street safety designs (indeed, the protected bike lane on Fourth Avenue through Sunset Park ends, abruptly, when cyclists enter the neighborhood).
As a result, Fourth Avenue is a wide open speedway, with two northbound and southbound lanes for motor vehicles, and lanes on each side for the storage of cars.
Drivers use all that room to speed. And much as city transportation officials seem content to allow Canal Street to remain a car sluice for motorists who want to get between a bridge and a tunnel, the city has let Fourth Avenue remain a dangerous feeder for drivers heading to the Gowanus Expressway or the Belt Parkway. Decolvenaere was, in fact, killed almost at the entrance to the Belt.
No wonder there have been 41 crashes since 2018 on the blocks on either side of where Decolvenaere was killed, injuring one pedestrian and seven motorists, according to city stats.
Speeding is a rampant problem in residential neighborhoods. Journalist Liam Quigley published videos after the crash showing how fast some people drive — then are so proud of their recklessness that they post it to Twitter. Both of the videos below were posted by the same person:
The same user posts videos of them hitting almost 80mph on residential streets @JustinBrannan pic.twitter.com/l8BXOOvqnb
— Liam Quigley (@_elkue) March 6, 2020
Council Member Justin Brannan also tweeted his outrage:
Driver speeding near 101st & 4th Ave struck man walking in crosswalk with his dog. Man was killed. I am sad, horrified and outraged. More info when I get it. People really need to slow the fuck down!!!!! #BayRidge
— Justin Brannan (@JustinBrannan) March 6, 2020
At least 25 pedestrians have died on New York City streets this year.
Bay Ridge and the neighboring area of Dyker Heights are particularly dangerous areas. Last year alone, there were 2,549 reported crashes, injuring 49 cyclists, 135 pedestrians and 482 motorists, and killing one pedestrian and one motorist, according to city data. That’s seven crashes per day.
Story was updated on Friday morning to include new information from the NYPD.