NYPD Ignores Streetsblog FOIL for Crash Report on Death of 15-Year-Old Jenna Daniels

NYPD never revealed the identity of the Staten Island driver who killed Daniels in 2014, and would not disclose how he was penalized for failing to exercise due care.

A motorist, in the white SUV at right, waits to make the same turn taken by the driver who killed Jenna Daniels. Image: Google Maps
A motorist, in the white SUV at right, waits to make the same turn taken by the driver who killed Jenna Daniels. Image: Google Maps

NYPD has not responded to a Streetsblog freedom of information request for files related to a crash that killed a teenage jogger in Staten Island.

Jenna Daniels, 15, was struck on the afternoon of November 15, 2014, by the driver of a pickup truck making a left turn from Hylan Boulevard onto Bayview Avenue in Prince’s Bay.

Jenna Daniels
Jenna Daniels

A preliminary NYPD report held the victim responsible. Police said Daniels was “outside the crosswalk … with headphones in her ears,” and said the driver “had the right of way.”

Walking while using headphones is legal, and — assuming Daniels was not within the crosswalk markings when she was struck, as NYPD claimed — city traffic rules Section 4-04(c)(3) allows mid-block crossings on streets that don’t have a traffic signal at both ends, like Bayview Avenue. This makes the victim’s position relative to the crosswalk irrelevant in determining fault.

The truck, a black Ford F-150, was altered with a raised chassis, oversized wheels, tinted windows, a blacked-out grille and front bumper, and tinted headlights. NYPD ticketed the driver for window tint, but the Collision Investigation Squad report said “the windows did not contribute to the crash,” according to the Staten Island Advance.

In March 2015, with its “months-long investigation” complete, NYPD summonsed the driver for failure to exercise due care, the Advance reported. Still, the department continued to publicly blame Daniels, telling the Advance she “was outside of the crosswalk when she was hit and therefore contributed to the collision.”

NYPD normally releases the names of drivers who are summonsed or criminally charged for killing people, but the department never revealed who killed Jenna Daniels. NYPD also declined to disclose the penalty applied to the driver.

[Update: A civil suit filed in 2015 identified the driver who hit Daniels as Jason R. Hills, then 38, according to the Staten Island Advance.]

Last February, Streetsblog filed a freedom of information request for NYPD files related to the crash that killed Daniels, including the CIS report, which is the official police account of the collision. NYPD has yet to acknowledge the request. Multiple follow-ups to the department have gone unanswered.

Without the driver’s name, there’s no way for the public to know, for instance, if the state Department of Motor Vehicles suspended or revoked his license, or if the DMV held an administrative hearing, as required by its own rules, in the first place.

Blocking access to completed crash reports is an obstacle to safer streets, but the NYPD practice of keeping the reports hidden from the public has not changed since the advent of Vision Zero.