Another Bizarre Victim-Blaming Crash Account From NYPD

When a motorist kills a pedestrian or cyclist, you can count on police to search for an explanation that clears the driver of culpability.

At mixing zones, turning drivers are required to yield to passing cyclists, but not enough do.
At mixing zones, turning drivers are required to yield to passing cyclists, but not enough do.

It happened again. After a turning truck driver struck and killed cyclist Kelly Hurley on First Avenue at Ninth Street, NYPD has concluded that the victim caused her own death.

An NYPD spokesperson told the Village Voice that Hurley “slipped off her bike” and “slid under the truck as he made the turn.”

Hurley is gone. She can’t recount her version of what happened on the morning of April 5, so we’re left with what the police tell us. And as is often the case when a motorist kills a pedestrian or cyclist, the NYPD account is a bizarre mess that exonerates the driver.

Detective Ahmed Nasser told the Voice that the motorist was turning left from the right-most lane, which, if true, is a moving violation. Turning motorists are also required to yield to cyclists at the intersection where Hurley was fatally injured, but Nasser offered up a series of conjectures to reach an exculpatory conclusion:

We asked Detective Nasser if the truck driver, a 59-year-old man who remained at the scene of the crash, should have been making sure that he wasn’t turning into a cyclist or a pedestrian in the intersection.

“Well, I suppose you can say one or the other, but it seems like he probably didn’t see her, and she was going up north, he was making a left, he’s actually already into the intersection, he was already making the turn,” Nasser said. “She probably didn’t stop in time, and she slipped and fell under… He’s already in, she tried to stop, she came off the bike, she slipped under the truck.”

Even if the truck driver entered the intersection first, cutting off the path of an approaching cyclist is still failing to yield.

Last spring, NYPD went public with an account of a fatal bike crash blaming the victim, Lauren Davis, for riding against traffic. Afterward, eyewitnesses came forward disproving that claim and NYPD eventually revised its statement — hardly the only time witness testimony or video evidence contradicted the police account.

Twice since Hurley was struck, the 9th Precinct has gone out to First Avenue to ticket cyclists for infractions that had no bearing on the crash.

There are design options at the city’s disposal that could actually prevent similar collisions in the future. In this short video from Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson, advocates remember Hurley and make a simple intervention to get turning drivers to be more careful: