Queens Pedestrian Maleka Begum, 54, Killed by Bus Driver Making a Turn

A 54-year-old woman was killed by a bus driver in Jamaica Saturday night.

Maleka Begum was crossing the street at Hillside Avenue and Merrick Boulevard at around 8 p.m. when she was struck by the driver of a Nassau Inter-County Express bus, according to the Daily News.

Maleka Begum. Photo via Daily News

“She was crossing with my sister and the bus just hit her and drove through her body,” said the victim’s tearful son, Motiur Chowdhury, 31. “He shouldn’t drive the bus. He shouldn’t drive at all.”

Police have ruled out criminality on the part of the bus driver, a 52-year-old man, who was turning off Hillside onto Merrick when he hit Begum. Cops were investigating the accident Saturday night.

Witness Mohammed Sarwar, 51, of Rockaway Beach, said Begum had the walk signal and the accident was “100 percent the bus’s fault.”

The driver would have been making a left turn from Hillside onto Merrick, according to a NICE route map. If the driver had a green light and Begum had a walk signal, as the witness indicated, the bus driver killed Begum while violating at least one traffic law. Yet NYPD “ruled out criminality” within hours.

NICE is operated by Veolia Transportation, which replaced Long Island Bus after Nassau County execs decided they didn’t want to pay for MTA bus service. With Veolia routes extending into the city, this crash raises the question of whether the private company’s drivers are as safe mile-per-mile as MTA drivers.

Begum was at least the second city pedestrian this month to be killed by a motorist making a turn. On October 3, Staten Island senior Margaret King, walking in a crosswalk in broad daylight, was fatally struck by a driver who was turning left from a fast food parking lot. As we wrote last week, such deaths are commonplace. But among city pols, notably council transportation chair James Vacca and speaker Christine Quinn, the mounting human toll has yet to arouse a sense of urgency comparable to that elicited by, say, sidewalk bicycling, which normally results in zero fatalities per year.

Had Maleka Begum and Margaret King been killed in collision with cyclists, their names would be on the lips of most every mic-loving elected in the boroughs. But since they died at the hands of careless motorists, like those killed last week and those who will die in days to come, to paraphrase reader dporpentine, they are numbers, not names.

This fatal crash occurred on the border of the 103rd and 107th Precincts. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to the precincts’ respective commanding officers, go to the next precinct community council meeting. Community council information may be found on each precinct’s web page.

The City Council district where Maleka Begum was killed is represented by James Gennaro. To encourage Gennaro to take action to improve street safety in his district and citywide, contact him at 212-788-6956 or jgennaro@council.nyc.gov.

This post has been updated.