NYPD: Failure to Yield Caused Crash That Left Cyclist Brain Dead; No Charges

The bus driver was making a turn, in red, when he struck cyclist Anna Maria Moström, whose path is shown in white. NYPD's preliminary investigation results fault the driver, but no charges have been filed. Photo: Google Maps
The bus driver was making a turn, in red, when he struck cyclist Anna Maria Moström, whose path is shown in white. NYPD’s preliminary investigation results fault the driver, but no charges have been filed. Photo: Google Maps

Update: Moström was removed from life support a week after the crash, according to the Post.

No charges have been filed against the bus driver who left a Roosevelt Island cyclist brain dead last week, even though NYPD’s preliminary investigation shows the driver caused the crash by failing to yield to the cyclist.

Photo: annamariamostrom/Instagram
Photo: annamariamostrom/Instagram

At 9:18 p.m. on Wednesday, October 8, Anna Maria Moström, 29, was riding her bike northbound on Roosevelt Island’s Main Street. A 51-year-old man behind the wheel of a Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation “red bus” going south turned left across her path to enter a turnaround beneath the Motorgate parking garage. The drivers-side bumper struck Moström and she fell off her bike, according to police. She was unresponsive when EMS arrived, and was transported to Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Moström, a model who moved to New York two years ago, is a Roosevelt Island resident. After the crash, her family arrived from Sweden to be by her hospital bed. Although she has undergone surgeries and doctors hope she can begin breathing without a respirator soon, she faces a bleak prognosis for regaining consciousness, according to Swedish newspapers Nöjesbladet and Expressen. The family is making end-of-life preparations including organ donation, according to a friend of Moström’s who spoke to the Daily News.

While the driver was not intoxicated and was not using a cell phone at the time of the crash, NYPD said preliminary investigation results showed that the driver was at fault for not yielding to the cyclist. Although there is a new law to penalize drivers in exactly this type of crash, no summonses have been issued and no charges have been filed against the driver.

The case is a likely candidate for charges under Section 19-190, a new law that makes it a criminal misdemeanor for drivers to strike pedestrians and cyclists with the right of way. While the law was intended for precinct officers to use at the scene, the only reported instances of NYPD applying the law involve highway unit investigations that conclude days or weeks after a crash.

The scene of the crash last week. Photo: Kevin Deutsch/Twitter
The scene of the crash last Wednesday. Photo: Kevin Deutsch/Twitter

In its coverage, the Post noted that Moström was not wearing a helmet and said “she crashed into the bumper of a bus,” instead of stating that the bus driver crashed into her. NYPD’s press office told Streetsblog that while the department collects information about helmet use in crashes, it does not track whether a cyclist was using lights at night. Unlike bike helmets, nighttime lights are required by law for all cyclists.

Because charges have not been filed, the driver’s identity has not been released. Streetsblog contacted RIOC to see if disciplinary action had been taken against the driver but its offices are closed in observance of the Columbus Day holiday.

Local residents say the buses are a safety hazard. “The red bus is a very, very large bus and the Roosevelt Island roads are extremely narrow. Every day there are near-accidents. Some days there are actual accidents,” one resident told Streetsblog. “It’s a constant problem. RIOC has received many complaints.”

Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the area, says he has reached out to RIOC and the 114th Precinct about the crash. “My deepest condolences go out to the family and loved ones of Ana Maria in the wake of this heartbreaking collision,” he said in a statement. “Because of tragic events such as these, our office has made street safety a top priority, releasing a report to identify areas in the community that must be fixed through street changes and enforcement mechanisms. On Roosevelt Island, we have been working with Bike New York to promote cycling and improve safety. This event is a stark reminder that we must redouble our efforts to reach Vision Zero in all of our neighborhoods for the safety of all New Yorkers.”

Update: Bike New York said that it recently met with RIOC’s transportation and community relations departments to discuss bike safety and bike education. “Our aim was to establish best road-use practices for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists, and the tragedy involving Ms. Moström highlights the urgency and importance of these discussions,” it said in a statement. “We will offer safety classes on the island for RIOC bus drivers and cyclists, and tomorrow morning we’ll go on a walking tour of the island with RIOC and the Public Safety Department to assess current infrastructure and identify changes that need to be made in order to make Roosevelt Island a safer place for all residents and visitors.”

This crash occurred in the 114th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Deputy Inspector Kevin M. Maloney, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 114th Precinct council meetings happen at 7 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month at Ricardo’s, 21-04 24th Avenue. Call 718-626-9311 for information.

This post has been updated with a photograph of the crash victim.