Driver Cleared for Killing Manhattan Cyclist Says He Was “Probably” Speeding

A driver who killed a Manhattan cyclist last summer and was not charged or ticketed for the crash later told authorities he was likely speeding at the time of the collision.

Ray Deter. Photo: ##""##Brew York, New York##

Ray Deter, a popular and revered East Village bar owner, was riding east on Canal Street on the afternoon of June 27, 2011, when he was hit by an eastbound Jaguar driven by 24-year-old Anthony Guan, near the intersection of West Broadway. Guan was cited for marijuana possession but was not summonsed or criminally charged for striking Deter.

Guan had accumulated seven moving violations in three years, according to Deter’s son Jake. At a Department of Motor Vehicles hearing last March, Guan told an administrative law judge that he normally drove at or above the 30 mph speed limit on Canal, and was “probably” doing so before the crash.

From the DMV transcript [PDF]:

Q. About what speed did you approach the intersection at?

A. Probably thirty, thirty-five.

Q. What’s the speed limit at that location?

A. Thirty.

Q. Where’d you get the figure thirty to thirty­-five from?

A. Usually back then when I used to drive around Canal Street, it says on my GPS.

Q. So do you remember specifically what it said at that time?

A. No.

Q. So why‘d you say thirty to thirty-five?

A. From my past experience driving on Canal Street on my GPS.

Q: Well if the speed limit’s thirty, and you’re going thirty-five, that’s speeding so do you usually speed on Canal Street is that what you’re saying?

A. No.

Q. So why thirty-five?

A. I’m just giving you an approximate. I don’t wanna —

Q. And you don’t have any problem going thirty to thirty-five miles per hour in moderate traffic on a weekday at rush hour on Canal Street?

A. There — there wasn’t any rush hour going east. There was only rush hour going west because of down town. So there — there wasn’t any traffic at all going east bound on Canal Street.

Later in the interview, Guan says he did not see Deter until the moment of impact, when Deter reportedly turned into his path. Guan said Deter appeared “out of nowhere,” and that he did not have time to brake. A witness told DNAinfo that he heard the sound of screeching tires from inside a nearby shop, and photos from the scene showed severe impact damage to Guan’s windshield and sunroof, which was completely shattered when Deter was thrown over the car.

Yet the NYPD crash report gave no sign that police made any attempt to gauge Guan’s speed. Hours after the crash, NYPD informed reporters that Guan had been summonsed for pot possession. Despite indications that speed contributed to the severity of Deter’s injuries, and may have played a part in whether a collision could have been avoided, by the next day police were telling reporters that no charges were filed related to the crash itself. Deter, 53, was removed from life support on July 3.

Like half of all drivers who take the lives of New York City pedestrians and cyclists, Guan was not cited for careless driving under state vulnerable user laws. After the March hearing, Judge Marc Berger exonerated Guan for killing Ray Deter.

“The evidence falls to show any violation of the New York State Vehicle and Trafñc Law on the part of Mr. Guan that could have contributed to this accident,” wrote Berger [PDF]. “There was no evidence presented that would warrant taking any action against the license and/or driving privileges of Mr. Guan.”

Last week, Jake Deter stood with City Council members and other victims of traffic violence to announce a legislative package intended to compel NYPD to reform its crash investigation protocols. To this point, such efforts have been greeted with silence from Commissioner Ray Kelly and Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and snide indifference from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.