UNMASKED: Crescent Street ‘Spitter’ is a Repeat Reckless Driver and Violent Offender
The man who spat on a cyclist last week because she blocked him from driving in the Crescent Street protected bike lane as he tried to get around slower traffic near the Queensboro Bridge is a recidivist reckless driver, convicted felon and notorious hothead whose car should not even be on the road.
The spitter caught on camera on Sept. 30 has been identified by Streetsblog’s sources as David Sabedra, 50, of Astoria. The fancy white BMW he was driving when he hawked a loogie at cyclist Kara McCurdy has been nabbed 22 times for speeding by city school-zone cameras since just Sept. 11, 2019. And Sabedra has racked up 16 speed-camera infractions since just April 2 — enough to earn his car a boot under city law (if Mayor de Blasio had actually funded implementation of said law, that is).
— Jehiah (@jehiah) October 1, 2020
Sabedra — whom McCurdy identified from a police mugshot — is quite literally the poster child for entitled, unaccountable drivers who continue to drive despite a horrible record. His prior car, also a BMW, racked up five camera-issued speeding tickets and two camera-issued red light tickets from 2014 through 2018.
In addition to his repeat violation of city speeding laws — and remember, our speed-camera tickets only kick in when a driver exceeds the posted limit by 11 miles per hour — Sabedra has been nabbed for speeding in Ohio (in 2017) and Pennsylvania (in 2015), court documents disclose. In Pennsylvania, Sabedra was caught exceeding the posted 65 or 70 mile-per-hour limit by more than 25 miles per hour.
Sabedra’s violence is not limited to the roadways. In 2008, he was convicted of two felonies: criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-degree assault, court records show. He served three years, according to the state Department of Corrections database.
Court documents also show that in 2012, Sabedra was accused by a fellow motorist of rear-ending her car on the Henry Hudson Parkway at around 96th Street.
“Sabedra was negligent in driving carelessly, in proceeding at excessive rates of speed, in failing to have his aforesaid motor vehicle under proper management and control [and] in following too closely,” the victim’s court documents alleged. That victim, whose name is being withheld by Streetsblog to protect her identity, said she suffered “severe and permanent” injuries, including “extreme and severe physical pain and agony.”
That case was settled in 2014 when Sabedra’s insurance company paid out an undisclosed amount to the victim, court documents show.
This is criminal conduct, and especially dangerous during the pandemic.
— Sen. Mike Gianaris (@SenGianaris) October 2, 2020
He has not cleaned up his act since.
On Oct. 12, 2018, he pleaded guilty to a 2017 drunk-driving arrest, agreed to pay a $1,000 fine and accepted a one-year revocation of his license (plus a five-year probationary period), according to public documents on the unified court system website. The revocation apparently has not begun; despite his plea, the sentence won’t be formally handed down until Sabedra’s next court appearance on Oct. 26.
Overlapping that legal trouble, on Dec. 25, 2019 (Christmas Day), Sabedra was arrested and charged with five misdemeanors, including assault with intent to cause injury, endangering a child, menacing, petit larceny and preventing another person from making an emergency call. He was also charged with harassment, a violation.
He was released on his own recognizance (which is interesting, given that his recognizance is that of a repeat offender) at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and will next be in court on Tuesday, Oct. 6.
McCurdy, the victim of Sabedra’s spit-take, said she wasn’t surprised that the driver was a jerk or that his record of recklessness was so extensive. But she said the city is also a villain here.
“The real root of this issue is incomplete bike lanes from a city that prioritizes drivers,” she said, referring to Crescent Street, which is not fully protected from drivers, who can still access the green-painted lane. “Most of the viewers of the video are shocked because of the spitting, but that’s just normal behavior from drivers. Of course, we know that, as cyclists.”
It is unclear why a person with this many prior convictions — some of them violent and most of them for serious and repeat road infractions — is still granted permission by New York State to operate a motor vehicle (although he will likely lose that privilege, finally, for a year on Oct. 6).
“We get the drivers we deserve. A system which yields to this level of brazen recklessness and antisocial behavior behind the wheel yields drivers like David Sabedra,” said Transportation Alternatives spokesman Joe Cutrufo.
Politicians and would-be pols in the neighborhood were similarly appalled — by the rudeness of the driver and the rudeness of city road design. In the case of Crescent Street, the two-way bike lane is protected by parked cars for much of its length, but in the block just before the Queensboro Bridge, the parking disappears. That’s where Sabedra tried to race around other cars.
“The actions on this video are disturbing on so many levels,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, whose Queens district includes part of Crescent Street. “Especially in a pandemic, he thinks it’s OK to spit on another person? He’s absolutely disgusting. Unfortunately, this is not the first instance of someone brazenly driving or parking in the bike lane we fought so hard to secure. It’s going to take more than paint and a few signs about the new parking rules to let drivers know they finally have to share the road. The DOT should implement physical barriers on the bike lane, particularly as the road narrows near the bridge and parking no longer separates traffic.”
Evie Hantzopoulos, who hopes to succeed Costantinides in the 22nd District of Astoria, also called on the city to do more.
“These are not truly protected bike lanes,” she said. “This kind of abuse is bound to happen given the sense of entitlement many drivers have and their disregard for safety of cyclists and pedestrians — they weaponize their cars. We need to both change the attitudes of drivers who suffer few penalties for breaking the law and create bike lanes which truly protect cyclists.”
Streetsblog left messages on all phone numbers listed for Sabedra in the LexisNexis database. We also left messages with two of Sabedra’s prior lawyers. A call to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles was not returned.