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Cops Arrest Reckless Driver Who Killed Education Leader Norman Fruchter

A reckless driver killed Norman Fruchter 26 years after his first wife died in the same manner. Cops finally arrested his killed this week.

4:39 PM EDT on July 25, 2023

Lev Fruchter, the son of Norman Fruchter and Rachel Fruchter, both of whom were killed in road violence 25 years apart, spoke at a vigil for his father in January. Photo: Bobby Preti

Police this week arrested the driver who struck and killed education reformer Norman Fruchter on a quiet Bay Ridge street in December — providing sad comfort and a semblance of accountability for his family 26 years after their mother was also killed by a reckless driver.

“I’m always happy to get a reckless, dangerous driver off the streets,” Chenda Fruchter  told the Daily News. “It doesn’t bring my dad back, though. It’s great that this guy will be held to account. That’s unusual.”

Cops threw the book at driver Jorge Gonzalez-Cadme, charging him with criminally negligent homicide, reckless driving, speeding, and backing up unsafely after he hit the 85-year-old Fruchter, who was crossing 68th Street on his way from Owls Head Park to his home on Bliss Terrace on Dec. 22, police said.

Gonzalez-Cadme, 42, was speeding against the direction of traffic on 68th Street when he backed over Fruchter, who was a leader of progressive education in New York, and then hit him again as he allowed the Hyundai Elantra to roll forward, Streetsblog previously reported. Fruchter was rushed to NYU Langone Hospital, where he died on Jan. 4. 

The circumstances surrounding Gonzalez-Cadme's arrest were not immediately clear. Neither the NYPD nor Brooklyn District Attorney’s office could say whether the alleged killer driver, who remained on the scene the night of the fatal crash but was not immediately charged, had turned himself in. He was arrested at the 84th Precinct in Downtown Brooklyn, according to authorities. 

Gonzalez-Cadme was released on his own recognizance as his charges are not eligible for bail, according to the DA’s office. 

Fruchter’s death was preceded 26 years by the death of his first wife in the same tragic manner.

In 1997, Rachel Fruchter — an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the SUNY Health Science Center in Brooklyn and a contributor to the landmark “Our Bodies, Our Selves: A Book By and For Women”— was killed by a van while biking in Prospect Park. Her death, in part, helped ignite the movement to remove cars from the green space and launch the Vision Zero initiative.

Nearly thirty years later, the couple's two children — Chenda and Lev Fruchter — have lost both their parents to reckless drivers. Lev Fruchter told Streetsblog earlier this year right after his father's death that he was dubious the driver would ever be held accountable. 

“This guy backed over my dad, racing down the street because he ended up on a one-way street that he didn’t want to be on,” he said. “God forbid that in this country we should take someone off the road for killing someone.”

Attempts on Tuesday to reach members of the Fruchter family or their attorney were unsuccessful. 

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