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Flatbed Trucker Fatally Strikes Pedestrian on 125th Street in East Harlem

3:24 PM EDT on May 24, 2023

A flatbed truck driver struck a pedestrian on E. 125th Street in East Harlem on May 24. Screenshot via Citizen App.

Updated | A flatbed truck driver struck and killed a pedestrian on E. 125th Street in East Harlem on Wednesday morning, according to police and witness videos from the scene. 

The trucker was stopped mid-block near Third Avenue just before 10:40 a.m., when 53-year-old Peter Roberts tried to cross the street heading north. When traffic started moving, the driver ran over Roberts with one of his front wheels and dragged him for several hundred feet until onlookers called out to the motorist alerting him he had hit someone, an NYPD spokesman said.

The 38-year-old driver stayed at the scene and was not arrested. A Police Department rep said there was "no suspected criminality." 

Police claimed the victim was "undomiciled" — a classification disputed by the victim's sister.

"Peter lived with his girlfriend," said Amanda Reilly. "Peter was well loved. He wasn't a homeless nobody.  He had a girlfriend of 15 years and a loving family that is devastated by the horrific event."

Footage from the scene shows first responders trying to get the man out from under the tractor trailer close to the intersection.

The driver had his head in his hands. Screenshot via Citizen App.
The driver had his head in his hands. Screenshot via Citizen App.

The police draped the body in a white sheet and set up barriers around it to block it from view, as onlookers gathered, and as the driver held his head in his hands, videos show. 

Harlem's main drag has long been a dangerous place for traffic violence.

On 125th Street from river to river there have been 310 crashes injuring 176 people over the past 12 months — nearly one crash per day, with half injuring someone. The injured include 41 pedestrians and 28 cyclists.

On just that one block where the crash happened, there have been 21 serious collisions over the past year, or almost two per month, injuring seven people, including three pedestrians and a cyclist. 

The four-lane road has no marked pedestrian crossings between the avenues on the long block.

The uptown neighborhoods lack safe street infrastructure of the wealthier areas downtown, such as protected bike lanes crossing east to west.

Protected paths for cyclists or narrowing roadways with so-called road diets have proven to reduce numbers of pedestrians killed or seriously injured by 30 percent, according to Department of Transportation statistics.

Traffic deaths have remained above pre-pandemic levels so far this year, at 84 fatalities through Tuesday, up from 77 during that time in 2019, according to the latest DOT stats.

Thirty-five pedestrians were killed by drivers this year, down from 41 in 2022 and 45 in 2019, but cyclists deaths have soared this year to 13 people losing their life, the highest number in a decade.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

Additional reporting by Gersh Kuntzman.

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