When Is NYC Law Enforcement Going to Use Hayley and Diego’s Law?

Sarah Parris
Sarah Parris

The driver who ran down 13-year-old Sarah Parris in front of Canarsie High School will apparently face no charges, despite indications in published reports that he disregarded a stop sign extended by a school bus driver.

Parris was killed while crossing Rockaway Parkway midblock to reach Canarsie High School, just before 8:00 a.m. Monday morning — the start of the school day. The Post reported that Parris’s friend, Akili Charles, was crossing with her and saw the motorist, Mohamed Diakite, drive past a school bus and ignore the stop sign:

The distraught pal said a passing school-bus driver had spotted the girls trying to cross the street, and put out its stop sign to help them make it safely to the other side, but the BMW “kept going.”

After striking Parris, Diakite then smashed into a car parked by the curb:

Photo: Daily News/
Photo: ##http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/11/01/2010-11-01_girl_13_killed_trying_to_cross_sixlane_roadway_in_front_of_brooklyn_high_school.html##Daily News##

The Daily News reported the next day that police had determined that speed was not a factor, and that Diakite passed the school bus on the right. The police sources in the story did not say the bus had come to a stop:

The 13-year-old from Brownsville crossed in front of a school bus that was driving in the left southbound lane, cops said. Diakite, driving in the right southbound lane, couldn’t see the girl until it was too late. 

If the driver did disobey a bus’s stop sign in front of a school zone and was exceeding the speed limit, criminal negligence would seem to be an option for law enforcement to pursue. Another option for police and prosecutors would be to file a charge of careless driving using the newly enacted Hayley and Diego’s law. Under the law, drivers who injure pedestrians or cyclists while failing to exercise due care are subject to mandatory drivers’ ed, and could be sentenced to fines of up to $750, jail time of up to 15 days, and a license suspension of up to six months.

Does killing a student crossing in front of a school bus right in front of a high school constitute a failure to exercise due care?

The office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes gave no indication that prosecutors will press charges either. “There have been no allegations of criminality,” a spokesperson told Streetsblog.