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Brooklyn Senior, The ‘Rock’ Of Her Family, Struck and Killed by TWO Hit-and-Run Drivers

The death renewed calls for the Adams administration to "do more" to keep pedestrians safe and treat road deaths "with the same urgency" as all violence.

3:22 PM EDT on November 3, 2023

Photo: Google|

This is the dangerous intersection where Yvonne Sandiford (inset) was killed on Thursday.

A beloved Brooklyn senior was struck by two hit-and-run drivers in a gruesome crash on a dangerous street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, renewing calls for the Adams administration to "do more" to keep pedestrians safe and treat road deaths "with the same urgency" as all violence, in the words of the local Council member.

According to police, Yvonne Sandiford, 79, was crossing New York Avenue in the crosswalk when the driver of a gray Nissan Rogue struck her as he turned onto New York Avenue from eastbound Herkimer Street at around 6:35 p.m. on Thursday. That driver fled.

Knocked to the pavement and already suffering grave wounds, Sandiford was then struck by a second driver — this one in a white Toyota Sienna — who was speeding up New York Avenue. That driver turned right onto Fulton Street and also fled. Police offered no additional information.

Sandiford, who lived about three blocks from the crash site, died at the scene, police said. Sandiford was a member of an extended community of residents or former residents of British territories who are supported by the St. George's Society, a charity that dates back to 1770.

"She was born in Barbados and worked very hard — and cared for her older sister," said Mary Lamasney, a social worker with the organization. "She was the person keeping it all together. The whole family is so devastated. This was not some 'old lady.' She was the rock of this family. Reckless driving not just killed Yvonne, but her sister, her kids and everyone who cared about her. It's so cruel."

The fatal crashes occurred inside what the city calls a Senior Pedestrian Zone, where investments are supposed to be made to increase safety for older New Yorkers. But, this intersection remained unchanged — and, according to Transportation Alternatives, "unsafe."

An unsafe road in 2012 ... and still.Photos: Google

The group's Executive Director Danny Harris blasted the Adams administration for not doing all it can do.

“The city of New York has the tools to stop traffic violence, especially for older New Yorkers, but lacks the political will to make our streets safe," he said, referencing the city's Streets Master Plan that binds the mayor to upgrade hundreds of intersection and create more car-free pedestrian space.

"Despite this, the intersection of Herkimer Street and New York Avenue — a known-dangerous area for senior pedestrians — has received no safety upgrades,” Harris said.

North of Herkimer Street, New York Avenue widens to three moving lanes, encouraging drivers to speed, he added.

Since January 2022, there have been 45 reported crashes on New York Avenue in just the two blocks between Atlantic Avenue and Fulton Street. Those crashes injured two cyclists, five pedestrians and 22 motorists, according to city stats.

In the larger City Council district where the crash occurred, there have been 1,665 reported crashes so far this year, or more than five every single day, according to the same stats. Those crashes have injured 105 cyclists, 157 pedestrians and 575 motorists, or roughly three people injured every single day.

The district is represented by City Council Member Chi Ossé, who called for more action by the Adams administration, which recently has been touting its work on driving down pedestrian fatalities, which are on pace for an all-time low.

“Traffic crashes and fatalities need to be handled with the same urgency and prevention as all violent crimes," he said. "Historically, downward trends are followed by surges which only serve to remind us that traffic safety requires consistent and constant efforts. ... Safe infrastructure is key. Driver and pedestrian education is key. Responsible policies are key."

This is data through Nov. 2 of every year.Chart: DOT

Ossé recently called out the administration for delaying a critical bike lane project in his district. The city offered no response in a Streetsblog story about the Bedford Avenue bike lane delay.

So far this year, 207 people have died on New York City streets, including 26 cyclists, which is the most deaths to this point in any year during the Vision Zero era.

The St. George's Society is accepting donations on behalf of the Sandiford family. Click here to donate.

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