Electeds Call for Safer Flushing Streets After Hit-and-Run Killing

Just after 1 a.m. Sunday, the driver of a black SUV struck and killed Mariano Contreras, 41, on College Point Boulevard in Flushing. The driver fled the scene and has not yet been located.

State Senator Michael Gianaris
State Senator Michael Gianaris at yesterday’s event on College Point Boulevard, with State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and Assembly Member Ron Kim. Photo: @SenGianaris

Yesterday, local residents and elected officials demanded accountability for reckless driving and called attention to dangerous street conditions in Flushing.

State Senators Michael Gianaris and Toby Ann Stavisky, Assembly Member Ron Kim, and a representative of Council Member Peter Koo joined residents of Bland Houses and members of Make Queens Safer at the event.

“Mariano Contreras could have been any of us — any elderly person or any family with young children who cross this intersection every day,” said Leola Wayne, president of the James A. Bland Resident Association.

Contreras was struck outside the Sky View Shopping Center, where people frequently cross mid-block.

“Over 100,000 pedestrians travel our streets daily and it is the final destination for over 20 bus and train routes,” said Dian Yu, executive director of the Downtown Flushing Transit Hub Business Improvement District. “Downtown Flushing traffic congestion has deteriorated, especially over the last three years.”

A 2015 survey conducted by the Flushing BID ranked traffic issues as the number one concern in the community.

“Too many of our neighbors are getting killed or hurt on our streets because we are not serious enough about penalizing reckless drivers,” said Gianaris, who has sponsored state legislation increasing the penalties for those drivers who leave the scene and for those driving with a suspended license.

According to the city’s Vision Zero View website, 11 people were injured in traffic at the intersection of College Point Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue in the first eight months of 2015.

“No neighborhood in Queens is immune to the tragedy of a hit and run, and no community member can avoid the risk of being a victim,” said Laura Newman, co-founder of Make Queens Safer. “We applaud our elected officials and the DOT for the many pedestrian improvements on College Point Boulevard, which have helped reduce the number of killed and seriously injured.”

Cristina Furlong is a co-founder of Make Queens Safer.