NYPD: No Charges for Driver Who Killed Senior in Rego Park Crosswalk

NYPD has inconsistently enforced the city's Right of Way Law, which was enacted to empower precinct cops to charge reckless drivers who harm people.

Saunders Street at 63rd Avenue in Rego Park. Photo: Google Maps
Saunders Street at 63rd Avenue in Rego Park. Photo: Google Maps

NYPD filed no charges against a driver who killed a senior in a crosswalk in Rego Park, though information released by the department suggests the victim had the right of way.

The victim, a 73-year-old woman, was crossing Saunders Street at 63rd Avenue at around 3 p.m. on July 1 when she was struck by a 60-year-old man in a Honda SUV, who was turning left from Saunders onto 63rd, NYPD told DNAinfo and the Forest Hills Post.

The victim was taken to Elmhurst Hospital with head trauma and injuries to her right leg. She died on August 15. NYPD has not released the names of the victim or the driver.

The intersection of Saunders Street and 63rd Avenue is a four-way stop with no traffic signals. If the victim was in the crosswalk, as NYPD says, she would have been walking with the right of way.

Adopted in 2014, the Right of Way Law — code Section 19-190 — made it a misdemeanor for city motorists to strike people who are walking and biking with the right of way. The law empowered precinct cops to hold motorists accountable for crashes police don’t personally witness, which cause thousands of injuries and deaths a year but historically resulted in no consequences for drivers.

NYPD has not been consistent in enforcing the law, applying it only once in 2014 and 34 times in 2015. Police filed 39 misdemeanor Right of Way Law charges in 2016.

Table: NYC Mayor's Office
Table: NYC Mayor’s Office

Section 19-190 has a civil summons provision that is supposed to apply when a driver violates someone’s right of way without striking the victim. Last year, however, NYPD issued 1,920 Section 19-190 civil summonses to motorists who injured people — incidents that should have triggered misdemeanor charges. Though the law was enacted to allow beat cops to charge drivers who harm people, NYPD has limited the misdemeanor provision to cases worked by the Collision Investigation Squad, which only investigates crashes that cause life-threatening injury or death.

At this year’s Transportation Alternatives Vision Zero Cities conference, held in May, City Council public safety chair Vanessa Gibson signaled she’d be willing to convene a hearing on how NYPD applies Section 19-190. So far Gibson has not followed through.

Streetsblog has asked NYPD for more information on this crash, which occurred in the 112th Precinct and in the City Council district represented by Karen Koslowitz.