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‘Whippersnapper’ Senior Citizen Run Down and Killed in Riverdale

9:41 AM EDT on July 29, 2022

The pedestrian was crossing Oxford Avenue when she was struck by the driver making a left. Photo: Eve Kessler

A woman who was struck and seriously injured by a driver in Riverdale earlier this week has died — and the driver remains uncharged, police said on Friday.

They don't make them like this anymore. Victim Bernice Schwartz.
They don't make them like this anymore. Victim Bernice Schwartz.

According to cops, Bernice Schwartz, a 99-year-old fixture in the neighborhood, was crossing Oxford Avenue on foot at around 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday when she was struck by the driver of a Mazda station wagon who had made a left from West 235th Street onto Oxford. The intersection is governed only by stop signs.

The 53-year-old driver caused Schwartz severe head trauma, according to police, and she was taken to Saint Barnabas Hospital, where she died. The driver remained on the scene and was not charged, cops said.

Schwartz was well known in the neighborhood.

"She was a whippersnapper," said Riverdale resident Louis Bernstein, who knew Schwartz from synagogue. "She was strong-willed, smart, thoughtful, willing to take things on. I thought she was just such a lovely lady. I'm so sorry that she was killed."

There have been 36 reported crashes on West 235th Street in the blocks on either side of Oxford Avenue since 2019, injuring three pedestrians and three motorists, or roughly 10 crashes per year, according to city stats.

The lack of charges against the driver in the case surprised many who know the intersection. Because of the stop sign, drivers can only move forward to make a turn if the street is clear — but Schwartz was in the crosswalk. DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez was asked on Friday if he's disappointed that the NYPD did not at least summons the driver for failure to yield, but he declined to second-guess the cops.

"My mom, who is 92, was hit by a car and she was two months in the hospital, so I know what it's like," he said. "Fifty percent of those who are dying in intersections are seniors. ... I cannot respond for the NYPD. What I can tell you is that Mayor Adams is bringing together DOT and NYPD and is committed to ensure that both agencies work together to address traffic violence."

Chart: Transportation Alternatives.
Chart: Transportation Alternatives.

Schwartz's death is just the latest in the Bronx, which is experiencing a significant increase in road fatalities this year, according to a report put out last week by Transportation Alternatives.

On Friday, Families for Safe Streets member Irma Rosenblatt demanded action from the Adams administration.

“We cannot afford to wait any longer," said Rosenblatt, whose 88-year-old mother, Ida, was killed by a speeding SUV driver in Riverdale eight years ago. "We need action today from Mayor Adams, DOT, and our local elected officials in Riverdale to protect all New Yorkers, especially our most vulnerable neighbors. We know how to prevent the horrors of traffic violence. How many more seniors have to die? Our leaders must have the courage to act now.”

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