SEE IT: Video Shows Bus Driver Killing Citi Bike Rider Dan Hanegby
The bus driver did not slow down. The cyclist did not swerve.
A video showing Coach USA operator Dave Lewis driving his 50,000-pound bus over Citi Bike rider Dan Hanegby bolsters the prosecution case that Lewis was reckless as he tried to pass the cyclist on W. 26th Street on June 12, 2017, knocking him to the ground and killing him. (See video below, starting at roughly :43.)
The video — a key component of Lewis’s ongoing trial — was released by Judge Heidi Cesare on Thursday, against the wishes of Lewis’s lawyer. Lewis is on trial for violating Hanegby’s right of way, a misdemeanor punishable by just 30 days in prison, though advocates called for a harsher charge.
In the footage above, Hanegby, 36, enters the frame shortly after :43 and is seen biking east between Eighth and Seventh avenues. The bus is behind Hanegby as he cycles between a white commercial van parked to his right and a black SUV that was jutting into the narrow one-way street on the opposite side.
Hanegby, who is wearing headphones, travels in a straight trajectory near the middle of the roadway. As Lewis passes, Hanegby’s front wheel jerks to the right just before he slips out of view — the video apparently showing the bus clipping Hanegby’s handlebars, causing the front wheel to twist right.
The video appears to counter an original police conclusion that Hanegby, who was an experienced cyclist, swerved. At the time of the crash, a police spokesperson told Gothamist that Hanegby was “swerving left,” a conclusion that is not supported by the video.
During the trial, Lewis’s lawyer Jeremy Saland had blamed Hanegby for the collision, but witnesses rebutted that. Last year, Lanette Perez, who had been riding in the front seat of the bus, said Lewis was to blame.
“We brushed him causing him to loose [sic] control,” she wrote in an email to Gothamist. “My heart breaks for this man and his family.”
A guilty verdict in the bench trial would send Lewis to jail for a month, but send a larger message to drivers who hit the accelerator pedal instead of the brake on narrow city streets. And it would undercut what has become the NYPD’s default reaction after collision: blaming the cyclist.
Saland objected to the release of the powerful video, saying it would bias future witnesses.
“There has been a significant amount of press coverage on this case, and it’s my concern that there could be undue influence on [future witnesses], because objectively, it’s a horrific, horrendous event,” he said. “As we know in this particular case, there are strong emotions in the biker community and some of them might be very reasonable… There’s such emotion here this is just going to add to that fodder.”
But Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White hailed of the judge’s decision to release the tape.
“When a crash victim can’t tell their side of the story, we end up with flawed accounts of what actually happened,” he said. “Without video evidence, Dan Hanegby might have been just another cyclist being blamed for his own death.”
A verdict is expected as early as Oct. 1.
— with Gersh Kuntzman