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Police Hunt Hit-and-Run Driver Who Killed Pedestrian in Queens

9:00 PM EDT on April 14, 2020

The intersection is typically a free-for-all. Photo: Google

The driver of an SUV struck and killed a Queens pedestrian on Tuesday afternoon, then did a U-turn and left his victim for dead, police said.

The driver was heading southbound on College Point Boulevard just outside of Flushing Meadows Park at around 2 p.m. when he or she struck Justin Leiva, 29, as he attempted to cross the busy six-lane road near the intersection of Booth Memorial Avenue, police said.

The area is a notorious speedway — likely even more so now, given the epidemic of reckless driving unleashed by nearly empty road conditions during the coronavirus crisis — and the intersection in question also features an entrance ramp to the northbound Van Wyck Expressway, another notorious stretch of road.

After hitting the pedestrian, the driver made a U-turn and headed north on College Point Boulevard. He or she was long gone by the time police arrived, according to the NYPD.

Danger stalks that portion of Flushing. In 2019, on just the five blocks of College Point Boulevard between Booth Memorial Avenue and the Long Island Expressway, there were 57 crashes, injuring one pedestrian and 18 motorists. Between January, 2016 and December, 2019, there were 203 crashes, injuring two cyclists, two pedestrians and 51 motorists.

The dramatic reduction in car travel during the pandemic has had one upside: Leiva is just the third pedestrian killed on city streets between March 2 and April 12, according to the Department of Transportation. In a typical year, 10 to 17 pedestrians are struck in just those five weeks.

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