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Cops Arrest Unlicensed Driver Who Seriously Injured Teen Cyclist On Ocean Parkway

The intersection of 18th Avenue and Ocean Parkway. Photo: Google

Police arrested an unlicensed driver on Sunday after he struck a 13-year-old cyclist on a notorious Brooklyn speedway, sending the teen to an already overwhelmed hospital — yet even a pandemic, and a rash in speeding, can’t stop cops from blaming the victim.

A spokesman for the NYPD said 53-year-old Alonzo Youman was driving with a suspended license westbound on 18th Avenue at around 1:05 p.m. when the teen cyclist “collided into him” after “(going) through a steady red light” heading north on Ocean Parkway — a six-lane speedway where drivers caused a five-car collision that sent two people to the hospital two weeks ago.

“Apparently (the driver) had the light,” an NYPD spokesman told Streetsblog, citing unspecified “witnesses on the scene.” The spokesman offered no information on whether the driver was speeding or distracted when he hit the young cyclist.

Paramedics rushed the teen, whom Yeshiva World News identified as Yaakov ben Chava Adina, to Maimonides Medical Center in stable condition, according to police. Youman was charged with the misdemeanor charge of aggravated unlicensed operation, but nothing else connected to the injuries he caused.

The NYPD spokesman said the investigation is closed because cops are comfortable that the driver had the right of way. But cops admitted they don't know if the unlicensed Youman was speeding — which is increasingly common in the city now that traffic levels have dropped by more than 70 percent, as Streetsblog reported. Speed cameras nabbed 12-percent more drivers over 14 days in March than they did during a comparable 14-day period in January, despite the sharp decline in the number of cars on the road.

Speed was certainly a factor in a five-car crash on Ocean Parkway two weeks ago.

Sunday's crash highlights the mayor's failure in creating safe, car-free streets for kids to play — it's inevitable that people will get hurt by speeding drivers on a throughfare like Ocean Parkway with six lanes of traffic and non-sequential lights, said attorney Steve Vaccaro.

"This is the predictable result of the mayor refusing to allow New Yorkers to recreate safely near their homes," he said. "With so few police reporting to work and traffic enforcement receiving reduced priority, we can only expect more children to be mowed down by unlicensed and other reckless drivers as the Mayor forces children into harms way by refusing to create safe neighborhood recreational space as other cities facing the virus pandemic have done."

Drivers must slow down, but the city also must do more to cut back on the number of reckless drivers on the road by banning non-essential driving so as not to even more so overwhelm hospitals with victims of preventable traffic crashes, said Hsi-Pei Liao, whose 3-year-old daughter Allison was killed by a driver in Queens in 2013.

"When our streets are nearly empty like they have been for the last few weeks, some drivers take the opportunity to speed. This is the last thing we need. Speeding is the leading cause of crashes, and our healthcare system cannot handle any additional strain right now," said Liao, a member of Families for Safe Street, which is calling on the mayor to ban non-essential driving. "We are in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, but just because the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has skyrocketed does not mean other emergencies are not happening. In order to make sure our hospitals can direct whatever resources they can muster toward the pandemic, we must do everything we can to eliminate preventable emergencies. Just as our elected leaders have called for us to take measures to 'flatten the curve,' they must also, with just the same urgency, call on New Yorkers to ''lower the baseline' — to reduce the number of hospital visits not related to the pandemic."

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