Three New Yorkers, Including Two Seniors, Killed by Drivers in the Past Week

Three people were killed by motorists in NYC since last Friday, including two hit-and-run victims. Two of the victims were also senior citizens.

Antonio Ramirez was struck by a hit-and-run driver in Washington Heights. The killer is still at large.

At around 4:40 a.m. Friday, a motorist in a dark-colored car fatally struck Antonio Ramirez, 40, at Audubon Avenue and 176th Street in Washington Heights, then fled the scene, according to reports. Along with neighborhood advocates, City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, and Assembly Member Gabriela Rosa blasted DOT after the crash for rejecting a Slow Zone for the area.

From the Post:

Friday’s fatality created a haunting scene for several schools near the crash, including Kipp Star Elementary on 177th Street.

Many young children and parents at the school had to walk past Ramirez’s body, which was wrapped in a white sheet. Some teachers left the building and tried to distract the students so they wouldn’t see it.

Frustrated mom Ayiesha Washington, 27, who has a son in kindergarten, said, “I’ve lived in this neighborhood for three years, and this is the millionth accident.”

Rodriguez and Espaillat, who rarely make an issue of street safety, said this section of Washington Heights is plagued by speeding drivers coming off the George Washington Bridge and the Cross Bronx Expressway.

“This tragic hit-and-run, less than a block from a school building, truly hits home for the people of Washington Heights, particularly when so many have raised the issue of high speeds in the area to the Department of Transportation,” said Rodriguez, in a press release. “It is so easy for deaths such as these to be avoided.”

Since the program began in 2011, DOT routinely gets many more Slow Zone applications annually than it approves. The press release from Upper Manhattan electeds incorrectly claims DOT rejected 15 of 70 applications this year, when the agency actually approved 15 of 74 applications.

Rodriguez, Espaillat, and Rosa made only a passing reference to the lack of traffic law enforcement in Washington Heights in their press release, and did not mention NYPD directly. The 33rd Precinct, where the crash occurred, had issued 273 speeding tickets this year as of August, and cited 154 drivers for speeding in all of 2012.

Ramirez worked at a restaurant and was a former building super. He was married with two kids, a 14-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son.

“This biggest part of it is the dance you have with your dad,” Leslie Ramirez told WNBC. “And that man took that dance away from me. He took away that one special person I had in my life.”

The Daily News reported that, according to police, the killer was driving an Infiniti, and Ramirez was “walking against the light.” As of earlier this week, at least one outlet was reporting the driver ran a red light, but that version of the story is no longer online. An NYPD spokesperson said today that the public information office did not have details on how the crash occurred. The motorist who killed Antonio Ramirez remains at large.

Angel Figueroa was at least the 27th pedestrian or cyclist age 65 and older killed by a New York City motorist in 2013.

Ethel Rubinstein, 69, was hit by the driver of a Mazda minivan at 11th Avenue and 49th Street in Borough Park at approximately 10:35 p.m. Sunday. NYPD told Brooklyn Daily and Metro that Rubinstein was in the crosswalk when she was struck, while the Daily News reported that police said she was crossing from between parked cars. All three outlets reported the van driver was traveling north on 11th, and the Daily News said Rubinstein was crossing west to east at 49th.

Press accounts mention neither driver speed nor who had the right of way. A Brooklyn Daily photo from the scene shows a bent shopping cart in front of the minivan.

Rubinstein died at nearby Maimonides Hospital. “Police said there would be no charges,” the Daily News reported.

On Monday morning at around 8 a.m., 74-year-old Angel Figueroa was crossing East Tremont Avenue near Puritan Avenue in Schuylerville when he was struck by the driver of a Dodge SUV. The impact threw him into the path of two other drivers, both of whom also hit Figueroa.

The motorist who first hit Figueroa was charged with driving without a license. Video of the crash shows Figueroa standing in the middle of the street, reportedly attempting to cross after parking his car, when the SUV driver hit him head-on. The second driver to strike Figueroa, who the Post says was in a Nissan Altima, fled the scene. According to the Post, Figueroa was hit a third time by a cab driver, who said he tried to stop the woman in the Nissan from driving away. “I told the lady, ‘Don’t leave. I have your plate number,’” said Jose Perez. “She called me an a–hole and took off.”

As with most crashes, reports are inconsistent: DNAinfo reported that the Nissan driver was the third person to hit Figueroa, and remained at the scene. WABC said the third vehicle was also a Nissan, and did not indicate a cab driver was involved.

A local business owner spoke with WABC about reckless drivers in the area:

Robert Jean owns a flower shop near the intersection, and calls the section of East Tremont ‘Devil’s Curve,’ because of how drivers race around the bend.

“The one thing I’m told will be done is that they’re going to put up more signs,” said Jean. “They’re going to put up speed signs to tell you how fast you’re going, when you see something like that, the tendency is that you happen to slow down.”

Figueroa was at least the 27th pedestrian or cyclist age 65 and older killed by a New York City motorist in 2013, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog.

Angel Figueroa was killed in the 45th Precinct, in the City Council district represented by transportation committee chair James Vacca. Ethel Rubinstein was killed in the 66th Precinct, in the council district represented by Brad Lander. Antonio Ramirez was killed in the 33rd Precinct, in the council district represented by Ydanis Rodriguez.


Uptown Electeds Ask Cuomo to Dedicate State Funds to Safer Streets

A group of uptown elected officials, including City Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez, sent a letter today to Governor Andrew Cuomo asking him to include dedicated funds for bicycle and pedestrian projects in his executive budget [PDF]. The request echoes a call from street safety advocates and comes as the de Blasio administration must marshal resources […]

Trottenberg Announces Plaza Equity Program at Plaza de Las Americas Reveal

Just eight months after the groundbreaking ceremony, officials held a ribbon-cutting this morning at Plaza de Las Americas, an impressive new public space in Washington Heights. Also today, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced a City Hall initiative to assist plazas in neighborhoods without the resources of a major business improvement district. Plaza de Las Americas reclaims one block of […]