Private Trash Hauler Critically Injures Cyclist in Flatbush [Updated]

A private trash carter struck and critically injured a cyclist at this intersection last night. Photo: Google Maps
A private trash carter struck and critically injured a cyclist at this intersection last night. Photo: Google Maps

Update: NYPD identified the victim of this crash as Derrick Belton, 44. Belton died from his injuries on August 21, according to police.

A private garbage truck driver struck and critically injured a 44-year-old cyclist at the intersection of Albany Avenue and Lefferts Avenue in Flatbush last night, highlighting the pervasive public safety risks in the commercial waste carting industry.

The victim, whom police did not name, remains in critical condition today, according to NYPD’s public information office. The driver, Steveson Thanus, received “multiple summonses,” though the police spokesperson could not specify the violations.

Police arrived at 11:23 p.m. last night to find the victim “laying in the roadway” with “severe head trauma,” the spokesperson said.

According to NYPD, the cyclist was riding south on the east sidewalk of Albany Avenue last night when he entered the intersection. The spokesperson said the driver was “going westbound on Lefferts approaching Albany” at the moment of impact, and the victim “collided with the right rear tire area of [the truck].”

The garbage hauler was driving a white Mack dump truck registered to La Vega Carting Corporation, located on Highland Boulevard in Cypress Hills, NYPD said.

La Vega is a small company with three employees. Co-owner Edwin Rosario told Streetsblog the truck had a broken rear light at the time of the crash. It’s not clear if this contributed to the collision, but if Thanus was backing up, the equipment failure could have been a factor.

Police were walking on Albany Avenue early Friday looking for surveillance footage of the crash, according to the Daily News. The News also made sure to note that “it was not immediately clear if the victim was wearing a helmet” — as if that would have prevented bodily harm caused by a gigantic moving vehicle.

Private trash carters handle all commercial waste collection in New York, and it’s common for the industry’s drivers to cover sprawling routes in their shifts. Recent reports from the Transform Don’t Trash NYC Coalition [PDF] and the Department of Sanitation [PDF] have called for a restructuring of the industry to create more efficient routes, cutting down on truck mileage and reducing incentives to drive dangerously.

Private trash haulers killed six people in New York City between 2010 and 2015, according to crash information compiled by Streetsblog. Of the 21 reported crashes involving private carters between 2010 and 2014, 86 percent caused physical injury or death, according to a safety analysis by Sam Schwartz Engineering.

The Transform Don’t Trash report also found widespread vehicle maintenance violations in the industry. A whopping 48 percent of all vehicles were taken out of service due to maintenance concerns in a two-year span, and many drivers reported being forced to drive vehicles with faulty brakes, bad tires, and broken lights.

Last night’s crash occurred in the 71st Precinct and in the City Council district represented by Darlene Mealy. If you’d like to voice concerns about traffic safety in the neighborhood to 71st Precinct Commanding Officer Norman Grandstaff, the precinct community council meets again on Thursday, September 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Middle School 61, located at 400 Empire Boulevard.

We’ll post updates as more information about the crash becomes available.