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Cyclist Dies in Prospect Park Under Murky Circumstances

11:54 AM EDT on September 12, 2020

Caption: Delroy Durant in a family photo. Source: Facebook

A cyclist died on Labor Day in a crash inside Prospect Park — with cops saying the rider merely lost control of his bike on a steep downhill, but a family friend disputing the official preliminary account.

What is known is that at around 7:45 p.m. on Sept. 7, a cyclist, who was identified by a family friend as Delroy Durant, was riding near the hill at Wellhouse Drive and West Drive inside the park when, according to police, he "lost control for unknown reasons" and "struck his head," suffering severe trauma.

The rider was taken to Kings County Hospital in critical condition, but later died, according to a social media post by Shersharna Stewart, who disputed the police report.

"On Labor Day at around 8 p.m, my dear friend Delroy 'Jerome' Durant was killed in an accident in Prospect Park," Stewart wrote in the public Facebook post, which she shared late on Sept. 11. "The family has been given conflicting information about the cause of his injuries from the FDNY & NYPD that this was a bicycle accident. None of the reports are consistent with the severity of his injuries. I believe he was hit by a vehicle & only emergency and city authorized vehicles are allowed in the park. Jerome is a loving husband, dedicated father, beloved son & brother, uncle, friend, and city worker. If you were in the park and have any helpful information please let us know. We need answers!! We want the truth."

In January 2018, Prospect Park officially became permanently car-free, with just emergency and city vehicles allowed. But since then, pedestrians and cyclists have consistently lamented cops' abuse of public green-space inside the park.

Durant is at least the 17th cyclist killed so far this year, and the fifth in just the first two weeks of September. Streetsblog initially reported this week that 13 cyclists had been killed so far this year, but reconciled numbers from DOT indicate an even higher death toll. By July 23 last year — the deadliest since the start of Vision Zero when 29 cyclists were killed — 17 cyclists had died on the streets of New York City.

On Sept. 3, 50-year-old Salvador Chairez-Rodriguez was struck by the driver of an MTA bus in Queens; two days later, an e-bike rider died after he collided with a pedestrian in the Bronx; and on Sept. 7, 35-year-old Sarah Pitts was struck by the driver of a private charter bus in Williamsburg.

News of Durant's death comes just hours after nearly 1,000 people, including cyclists and marchers, clad in white, participated in a Black Lives Matter ride in Pitts's name. Pitts — a prosecutor in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, whose friends and colleagues say dedicated her life to seeking justice — was also heavily involved with Riders For Rights, a group of cyclists fighting to protect protesters’ first-amendment rights.

— with Gersh Kuntzman

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