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School Bus Driver Kills 6-Year-Old In Williamsburg Hit-And-Run

3:11 PM EST on February 24, 2021

File photo: Dave Colon

A 6-year-old was killed by the hit-and-run driver of a school bus in Williamsburg on Wednesday morning, the second hit-and-run in 2021 that resulted in a child's death.

According to preliminary information from the NYPD, at about 8:34 a.m., Shimon Fried was killed at the intersection of South Fifth and Hooper streets in Williamsburg. The school bus driver did not remain at the scene, but the a police spokesperson said that the driver was later found and taken in for questioning.

Shimon is the second child killed in a hit-and-run in under two months. In January, 4-year-old Yoshi Balaban was killed in Bensonhurst when a man driving a van to drop him off at school hit him and a 6-year-old child, who survived the crash. The driver, Yehiel Guzi, was eventually arrested and charged with leaving the scene, plus lesser charges.

The section of Williamsburg where little Shimon was killed is exceptionally dangerous for pedestrians, thanks to the presence of entrances to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Williamsburg Bridge, plus an elevated subway train on Broadway. In 2019*, a small 16-square-block area bounded by Borinquen Place, the BQE, Broadway and Union Street had 154 reported crashes, injuring 15 cyclists, 11 pedestrians and 27 motorists, killing one cyclist, according to Crashmapper.

Wednesday's crash occurred shortly before the City Council held a hearing on a bill to take crash investigations away from the NYPD and put them under the auspices of the DOT. Street safety advocates noted that although the number of hit-and-runs in the city increased from 36,000 in 2013 to an average of 45,000 per year between 2018 and 2020, the NYPD has not improved its clearance rate around the cases.

"The growing number of hit-and-runs suggests that our mayor is losing control over his streets to reckless drivers," said Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris. "This is compounded by the NYPD’s abysmal record of solving these crimes, making arrests in less than one percent of fatal hit-and-runs. The status quo is not working. Unless Mayor de Blasio takes immediate action to save lives and save his Vision Zero legacy, more people, including children, will die."

Victims advocates for crash victims also demanded an answer from the mayor.

"This crash is not an accident. How will he prevent the next one?" asked Families for Safe Streets member Judy Kottick. “It is time to move more responsibility for crash investigations to NYC DOT. Mayor de Blasio also needs to ramp up efforts to ensure that streets and big vehicles are designed so drivers of buses and trucks on our roadways stop killing our children going to school and walking our streets.”

* Streetsblog is using 2019 data as a benchmark because the data from 2020 is compromised by radically different driving patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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