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Aggressive Driving

Family of Hit-and-Run Victim Seeks Public’s Help Searching for Speeding Driver  

12:01 AM EST on December 3, 2020

The moment of impact when a hit-and-run driver badly injured Walter Stone. Photo: CBS2

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The family of a hit-and-run victim, who was injured last month by a speeding driver on his Queens block, is blaming cops for a shoddy and lackluster investigation that has so far turned up empty, leaving the family searching for answers on its own.

Police say that on Nov. 5 at about 9 a.m., the unidentified driver was speeding in reverse when he struck 60-year-old Walter Stone as he was crossing Nichols Avenue between Etna Street and Ridgewood Avenue, sending the 6-foot-8 husband and father to Jamaica Hospital with injuries to his head, legs, and back.

Stone’s wife, Carmen De La Rosa, says she heard the horrific the crash (which was caught on video), and saw her husband lying on the ground bleeding — but by the time she ran out of the house, the driver had already fled in the dark-colored Infinity.

Police officers who responded initially made matters worse, first by reporting the crash as mere property damage, not an injury, she said.

“I saw my husband in the air. I heard the sound from the house like a truck crash. I saw my husband in the middle of the street bleeding," she said. "(Drivers) speed. So many crashes happen on this street. From the beginning they made a mistake with some stuff. The first two cops put property damage."

Carmen De la Rosa and her husband Walter Stone, who was hit by a hit-and-run driver last month. Photo provided by Carmen De la Rosa
Carmen De La Rosa and her husband Walter Stone, who was hit by a hit-and-run driver last month. Photo provided by Carmen De La Rosa
Carmen De la Rosa and her husband Walter Stone, who was hit by a hit-and-run driver last month. Photo provided by Carmen De la Rosa

But the investigation has stalled, De La Rosa says, because the car had temporary plates — a common scam in New York City — making it difficult for cops to track down the driver, despite multiple cameras that De La Rosa says clearly captured the car and the damage it sustained.

"They never call us about anything. We are calling to find out what happened," said De La Rosa. "There's so many cameras, that's why I don't understand. Everything fell off that car, there's no glass, it's smashed in the back." 

Stone is just one of the hundreds of people injured in hit-and-run crashes each year, of which just a small percentage are solved. Of the 5,699 hit-and-run crashes that caused injuries in 2018, only 492 people were arrested — a rate of less than 9 percent, Streetsblog reported last year.

And so far this year, the number of hit-and-run crashes with critical injuries is up compared to the same time period last year — from 37 during the first nine months of 2019, to 45 so far this year, according to NYPD data. And that’s including several months of the city's stay-at-home orders, when speeding was rampant yet cops were writing far fewer tickets to reckless drivers.

But more crashes doesn't mean more arrests — like the speeding ticket slowdown, cops are similarly solving fewer hit-and-run crashes. Of the 37 critical hit-and-runs though this time last year, 22, or 60 percent, were unsolved. This year, 35 of the 45 hit-and-run crashes with critical injuries are unsolved, or 78 percent, according to NYPD data.

The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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