No Charges for Driver Who Killed 66 Year-Old Man on Atlantic Avenue

The victim had just left Key Food when he was struck outside the crosswalk by a driver going westbound on Atlantic, on the
The victim had just left Key Food when he was struck by a driver going east on Atlantic. Eastbound traffic is heading away from the camera. Photo: Google Maps

Update [Wednesday, August 12]: The victim has been identified as Muyassar Moustapha, 66.

A driver struck and killed a local store owner on Atlantic Avenue last night. NYPD says the pedestrian was at fault for crossing outside the crosswalk and against the light, and the driver faces no charges.

Police have not released the victim’s name pending family notification, but a friend told the Daily News that the 66-year-old man is one of the longtime owners of Oriental Pastry and Grocery on Atlantic Avenue. He had just left the Key Food on the northeast corner of Atlantic and Clinton and was crossing to the south side of the street when he was struck at 8:24 p.m.

“That car threw his body maybe 20 feet in the air. He hit him at full impact,” a witness told the Daily News. “The guy lost so much blood. There was nothing anyone could do.” Police say he was rushed to Brooklyn Hospital Center, where he died of his injuries.

“It appears the vehicle had the green light,” an NYPD spokesperson said, adding that the victim was “outside of the crosswalk” when he was struck by a 26-year-old driver in a Mercedes C300 on eastbound Atlantic. The driver does not currently face any charges, though the case remains under investigation by NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad.

NYPD did not provide more detail, such as whether the driver was speeding or distracted before he crashed into the pedestrian. “We’ll have to wait for the CIS team to come back with a full report,” the spokesperson said.

The intersection with Clinton Street received leading pedestrian intervals, which give walkers a head start on turning drivers, in 2001 [PDF]. Atlantic Avenue became the city’s first 25 mph “arterial slow zone” last year. In January, it was named a Vision Zero priority corridor.

DOT has installed traffic calming measures near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, a few blocks west of yesterday’s crash site. Last year, Community Board 2 and the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District asked for additional fixes covering Clinton and other intersections between Flatbush Avenue and the BQE. The BID says Atlantic has received additional LPIs, but DOT has not added the requested curb extensions or shared-lane bicycle markings.

“On Atlantic Avenue there’s a perpetual conversation about pedestrian safety,” said Community Board 6 district manager Craig Hammerman. “That area’s been undergoing a series of redesigns and tweaking with the goal of improving pedestrian safety,” Hammerman said of Atlantic west of Flatbush, “but we’re certainly not done yet.”

“On behalf of the merchants of Atlantic Avenue we are deeply saddened by this loss,” Atlantic Avenue BID executive director Josef Szende said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers our with this family that is one of the long-standing merchant families on the avenue. We are ready to actively participate to find solutions to make our avenue safer for all. We consider it vitally important to work with NYC DOT, our local police precincts, our community boards, resident groups, and all local stakeholders to continue to find safety solutions for Atlantic.”

The crash occurred on the border of CB 6 and CB 2, and on the border of City Council districts represented by Brad Lander and Stephen Levin, who both issued statements.

Update 3:03 p.m.: “I was saddened to learn of the tragic death of a pedestrian and long-time neighborhood resident and merchant on Atlantic Avenue last night,” Levin said. “Our streets must be safe for all New Yorkers who use them — in vehicles, on foot or on bicycles. My district office is located on Atlantic Avenue and I am fully committed to working with the community and relevant city agencies to confront the safety challenges there. My thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family today.”

Update 3:32 p.m.: “My heart goes out to the victim’s family from last night’s horrifying traffic death on Atlantic Avenue. I’m deeply saddened by their loss,” Lander said. “Atlantic Avenue will only see more pedestrian traffic as time goes on, and we must continue to work to improve street safety along the corridor while moving forward with our Vision Zero goals — the lives of so many New Yorkers depends on it.”

Atlantic Avenue is also the dividing line between the 76th and 84th precincts, each of which had issued fewer than one speeding ticket per day through the end of June. In the first 180 days of this year, the 76th Precinct, which includes Cobble Hill and Red Hook, has issued 113 speeding tickets and 109 citations for failure to yield to a pedestrian. The 84th Precinct, covering Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn, has issued 74 speeding tickets and 175 citations for failure to yield to a pedestrian over the same period.

To express concerns about traffic safety to Captain Elliot Colon, commanding officer of the 76th Precinct, attend the next community council meeting, scheduled for September 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the precinct, 191 Union Street. You can voice your concerns to Captain Sergio Centa, commanding officer of the 84th Precinct, at its next community council meeting on September 15 at 6:30 p.m. A location has yet to be announced.

This post previously reported that the driver was heading westbound, rather than eastbound. It has been corrected.