NYPD Fails to Charge Driver Who Killed a Child in Red Hook This Morning

Witnesses say a driver hit 14-year-old Nicholas Soto with enough force to throw him away from the street and over a nearby fence. NYPD filed no charges. Image: Google Maps
Witnesses say a driver hit 14-year-old Nicholas Soto with enough force to throw him away from the street and over a nearby fence. NYPD filed no charges. Image: Google Maps

A motorist killed a teenager in Red Hook this morning.

Nicholas Soto, 14, was crossing Lorraine Street at Hicks Street at around 7:00 when the driver of a BMW sedan slammed into him.

From WNBC:

Witnesses said the force of the impact flung the boy up in the air and over a fence.

Millie Mendez said the sound of the boy being hit was so loud she thought two cars had collided. When she realized it was a boy, not a car, that had been hit, she said she couldn’t believe it.

“He was bleeding everywhere,” Mendez said.

Mendez and others told WNBC speeding is a problem in the area. “The cars come like they’re on a thruway,” Mendez said. “They need a light, speed bump, they need something on this corner because this is dangerous right here,” said resident Edward Ulsalston.

Photos from the scene show the BMW with front end damage and a cracked windshield, signs that the victim was thrown onto the hood. Though photos and witness accounts point to driver speed as a factor, police told WNBC that “No criminality is suspected.”

Daily News reporter Rocco Parascandola, meanwhile, cited an unnamed police source who blamed the victim.

A 14-year-old racing to catch a school bus was struck and killed by a car in Brooklyn Monday morning, police said.

Nicholas Soto was rushing across Hicks St. at Lorraine St. just before 7 a.m. when he was struck by a 2004 BMW heading west on Lorraine.

Nicholas, who lived nearby, died a short time later at Methodist Hospital.

The driver remained at the scene and will not likely be charged.

A police source said the teen’s vision may have been partially obstructed by his hoodie.

“It appears to be a tragic accident,” the source said.

Note that while the anonymous source and Parascandola describe Soto as “racing” and “rushing,” with his vision obscured by his own sweatshirt, the only thing said about the driver, reportedly a 28-year-old man from New Jersey, is that he was “heading west” on Lorraine Street. (Multiple reports cite police as saying Soto was crossing Hicks, but a Post photo appears to indicate he was crossing Lorraine at Hicks from north to south.) 

This crash happened on a neighborhood street where kids were boarding a school bus — a situation where anyone with a driver’s license should know to look for children. Why did the driver not slow down? How did he fail to see Soto in broad daylight? Who had the right of way? Such details are crucial to understanding how this crash occurred, yet the Daily News chose to focus exclusively on the actions of the deceased child.

Not to be outdone, the Post reported that the proximate cause of the collision was the victim’s clothing: “A 14-year-old boy was hit by a car and killed when the hooded sweatshirt he was wearing prevented him from seeing the driver as he dashed a Brooklyn street to try and catch a school bus, police sources said.”

Nicholas Soto was at least the third child age 14 and under killed by a NYC motorist in 2014, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog, and at least the 13th such victim since January 2013.

This fatal crash occurred in the 76th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Captain Justin C. Lenz, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 76th Precinct council meetings happen at 7:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month at the precinct, 191 Union Street. Call 718-834-3207 for information.

The City Council district where Nicholas Soto was killed is represented by Carlos Menchaca. To encourage Menchaca to take action to improve street safety in his district and citywide, contact him at 212-788-7372 or @Carlos4Council.