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Carnage

Media Reminds Us of Pete Alonso’s Great Stats — But Not the Deadly Stats of Road Violence

9:32 PM EDT on March 14, 2022

Pete Alonso miraculously escaped injury in a brutal car crash in Florida (lower left) and the Mets offered only prayers (top left). Main photo: David B. King via Flickr

Mets fans got a jolt on Monday morning when beloved home run smashing first baseman Pete Alonso told reporters that on Sunday his car was T-boned by a driver who ran a red light in Tampa — the impact of which, he said, caused his car to flip three times.

Alonso somehow survived physically unscathed, which means he might avoid the fate of another Met whose career was ruined by an awful Florida driver. A video of the crash's aftermath, which Alonso's wife Haley posted on Instagram, shows that it's nothing short of a miracle that he's walking away from the collision unhurt.

Often, media outlets rush to call such crashes an "accident," but many, including the Daily News and New York Post, headlined their stories with words such as "wreck" or "crash." Nationally, MLB.com and ESPN also both headlined the incident as a crash, but other media focused on Alonso's stats with the Mets, such as his leading home run, runs batted in and batting average numbers last year.

So here are some more stats that didn't make the papers: In Hillsborough County, where Alonso's crash happened, there were 28,014 crashes in 2021, an average of 76 per day, resulting in 18,965 injuries and 271 deaths — a staggeringly high number in a county with 1.5 million people. (By comparison, New York City has 9 million people and suffered roughly 230 road deaths last year.)

There were 12,164 injury-causing crashes in Hillsborough, which averages out to an astounding 33 injury-causing crashes per day. (In New York, there are roughly 100 injury-causing crashes every day, or three times as many, but the city has roughly six times as many people as Hillsborough County.)

Inaccuracies, inattentiveness and misunderstandings (circled words) mark the mainstream media's coverage of the Pete Alonso crash. Photo: Streetsblog Graphics Team

Alonso was a lucky man, something he attributed to the driver who ran the red light as smashing into his passenger side door instead of his driver's-side door. It's a twisted form of luck though. Alonso is lucky the other driver hit his car the way he did. Haley Alonso is lucky she made the choice to drive behind her husband in a second car. Alonso is lucky then, that his wife wasn't hurt or killed.

But the stats in Hillsborough County say that's just another day on the road. And the reaction from the mainstream press seems to be that there's nothing to see there.

But if Alonso had been the victim of a shooting, you'd be certain that the papers would be filled with statistics about how dangerous and violent Hillsborough County is. But a crash? That's just an accident; it's not like our elected officials can do anything about it, right?

(Alonso also thanked Ford for its “great engineering” of the massive SUV he was driving, neglecting to point out that the increasing weight and size of such “engineering” has led to a rise in road deaths — most exaggerated among people outside of American cars.)

The Tampa police didn't respond to a request for comment, so details on the crash are light. But you can piece together a couple familiar details from Haley Alsono's photos: South Manhattan Avenue, where the crumpled mess of the car that crashed into Alonso's sits, is a four-lane highway fed by plenty of other wide streets with nothing but car infrastructure inviting certain doom.

The speed limit on the roads is 30 miles per hour, which combined with the total lack of design elements to slow drivers down, is not only inviting crashes, but devastating ones.

Here's a photo of that intersection:

South Manhattan Avenue approaching the intersection of Euclid Avenue in Tampa, where Pete Alonso's car was hit by another driver, is a classic American stroad. Photo: Google

Pete Alonso is a famous baseball player, a guy who set the record for home runs by a rookie, won two straight Home Run Derbies and generally carries the hopes of a franchise on his large, sometimes shirtless, shoulders. The sports story for the crash basically ends there, unless there's some lingering issue that the crash causes weeks or months down the line. But on Sunday Pete Alonso was also just a guy driving to work, who like literally hundreds of people a week in Hillsborough County, had his normal routine interrupted by traffic violence.

Of course, it's nothing we're not familiar with in New York. Sometimes the traffic violence victim is a 3-month old baby girl killed when someone took advantage of a leftover slip street that existed to preserve a handful of parking spots. Sometimes it's a father killed just minding his own business because the city is happy to preserve traffic design that leaves room for someone to race down the street recklessly. Most of the time, we don't even know the story of the last person impacted by traffic violence, because there aren't enough reporters to document each of the 22 pedestrians who were injured in a crash every single day between Feb. 6 and March 6 this year.

The result of it all though, from most of the rest of the world, is mostly numb silence or a bizarre normalization of death and carnage. The Mets tweeted a prayer emoji for Alsonso and called it day; a team that benefits mightily from the infrastructure built for them by city taxpayers barely even acknowledged the danger that such infrastructure caused one of their employees, nor does the team do anything tangible to demand more safety for its fans as they try to get to Citi Field, which is surrounded by highways and basically inhospitable to cyclists or pedestrians.

Transportation Alternatives did not call out the Mets, but looked at the broader issue of why our city remains as unsafe as the killing fields where Pete Alonso was nearly killed.

"We’re glad to hear that Pete Alonso is doing well after another driver ran a red light and t-boned him," said the group's Queens Organizer Laura Shepard. "While this crash was in Florida, we know red-light running is on the rise in New York City. However, Albany limits the use of red-light cameras to just 1 percent of signalized intersections. We need home rule over traffic safety to curb reckless driving. City leaders must also make sure it’s safe and convenient to bike and walk to Citi Field before Opening Day with secure bike parking and protected routes."

If Alonso has another All-Star season (here's hoping), the crash will be mentioned in a profile later this year, adversity overcome, team of destiny stuff. If Pete and/or the Mets struggle, the crash will be an omen, bad luck for the Yankees' little brothers. But tomorrow, and the next day, and the one after that, 33 more crashes will happen in Hillsborough County, Florida and at least one person involved in each of them will not be as lucky as Pete Alonso.

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