Mother of Slain Cyclist Feels Pinned By NYPD

Matt Travis in his Twitter profile pic.
Matt Travis in his Twitter profile pic.

Mayor de Blasio is about to get body slammed.

The mother of the professional wrestler who was killed by a reckless, hit-and-run dump truck driver early Sunday is livid at the mayor and his NYPD for an unprofessional and seemingly lackluster response to her son’s killing.

Matt Travis, in a photo provided by his mother.
Matt Travis, in a photo provided by his mother.

“I haven’t received any type of information. I’m so upset. This is what I’m doing instead of grieving,” said Yolanda Nieves the mother of Matt Travis, a rising star in the squared circle who lived in the South Bronx and wrestled out of the House of Glory gym in Queens. “I’m having such a hard time, I’m so upset. I found out through the internet.”

The NYPD has not contacted Nieves about the crash at the foot of the Willis Avenue Bridge, which police say occurred when the truck driver made an illegal left turn and slammed into Travis, making him the 28th cycling fatality this year. The Police Department said it notified Travis’s family of his death, but Nieves said she has heard nothing.

Police have not been helpful and have not returned her calls seeking information, she added.

Her anger will likely turn into action, she said.

“I have to bring awareness, do rallies,” she told Streetsblog. “I’m going to make a big stink because my son was taken from me. I’m going to reach out to to the mayor. I want there to be a law if you hit and run, you’re going to get the toughest penalty. My son needs justice — I want to make sure no one has to go through what I’m going through. He was an angel. He was very talented, trying to do his best.”

After initial publication of this story, City Hall spokesman Will Baskin-Gerwitz told Streetsblog: “Matt Travis’s death is a tragedy, and we hope his mother receives the answers she deserves. Mayor de Blasio agrees that hit-and-run driving is a heinous crime, and if apprehended, the driver will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of a very strict law.”

Police say they are still investigating the fatal crash, but have released few details. Cops say they are searching for the driver and owner of a “Kenworth dump truck,” which continued into the Bronx after hitting Travis. But the NYPD would not answer additional questions about the case, including whether it had reviewed footage from multiple cameras that surround the crash site, or whether investigators visited the construction sites near the Willis Avenue Bridge.

There aren’t that many businesses, after all, operating large dump trucks that wouldn’t notice when one went missing.

Meanwhile, Travis’s wrestling colleagues will honor him with a grappling showcase on Saturday night at the House of Glory arena in Jamaica. The gym’s owner, Brian Baez, said he was also in shock, but had a different reaction than Travis’s mom.

“We are mourning, and it’s not for me to call for investigations or justice — that’s God’s job,” Baez said. “If his mom needs anything, of course I am there for her. But locking someone up for rushing or making a mistake? What’s that going to solve?”

Plenty, according to street safety advocates and lawmakers. Last month, in fact, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. called for stiffer penalties for reckless drivers — though, in an op-ed for Streetsblog, he suggested that he understands sentiments expressed by people like Baez.

“The solution for ending vehicular violence does not lie entirely with criminal laws or handling of evidence,” Vance wrote. “We also need vigorous enforcement, smart street design, better education and outreach, and more collaboration between city and state agencies and our communities. But the Vehicular Violence Accountability Act is our effort to ensure that, on the criminal-legal side, we are doing all that we can to support survivors and ensure that drivers who kill or injure face accountability.

travis flier

The NYPD declined to answer questions for this article. 

— with Gersh Kuntzman