Defying Evidence, NYPD Won’t Say Driver was Speeding in Fatal Bay Ridge Crash

The car that struck Frank  Decolvenaere is severely damaged, suggesting a high-speed crash. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
The car that struck Frank Decolvenaere is severely damaged, suggesting a high-speed crash. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

More evidence has emerged that the driver who killed a Bay Ridge pedestrian on Fourth Avenue was traveling at a high rate of speed before the Thursday night crash — but the teen driver with a long record of speeding has not been arrested.

What’s the new evidence? The badly damaged car itself — riddled with damage consistent with striking a pedestrian at an excessive speed, plus documentation left on the front seat that reveals the unidentified 19-year-old driver was uninsured for part of last year.

The Mercedes-Benz 350 luxury car used to kill Frank Decolvenaere on Thursday night is parked next to the 68th Precinct stationhouse in Bay Ridge. The damage, said veteran personal injury lawyer Steve Vaccaro is consistent with a car traveling at 35 miles per hour — and “could be as high as 50.”

Here’s the windshield:

windshield 1

Here’s the right front end:

front end damage 3


Here’s the right front hood:

hood dent 2


A note on the front seat of the car — which could clearly be seen through the side window — revealed that the insurance policy on the car was canceled on Sept. 11, 2019 due to non-payment. It is unclear if the policy was ever reinstated.

On Sunday, the NYPD declined to comment about the damage or provide more details about the incident. Officials declined to comment on the driving record attached to the car, which has received four camera-issued speeding tickets since August (right):

br driver record

The NYPD was quick to say that Decolvenaere was crossing Fourth Avenue against the light, but have provided no evidence to support that claim. A witness disputed the NYPD preliminary account.

“He was hit by a speeding car that threw him all the way into the garbage [cans],” witness Tony Spinelli told LoudLabs. “The driver blew the light. This has been an ongoing problem for years and years. … There have been so many senseless deaths. You want to show your car off, take it to the show. Don’t take it to Fourth Avenue and kill someone.”

Council Member Justin Brannan, who has long called for drivers to slow down, is furious that the NYPD blamed the victim when evidence suggests that the driver was speeding.

“I am begging the NYPD to at least admit that speeding was a factor,” Brannan told Streetsblog on Sunday. “The victim blaming [on Facebook] is out of control.”

Fourth Avenue is a wide open speedway, with two northbound and southbound lanes for motor vehicles, and lanes on each side for the storage of cars.

Drivers use all that room to speed. And much as city transportation officials seem content to allow Canal Street to remain a car sluice for motorists who want to get between a bridge and a tunnel, the city has let Fourth Avenue remain a dangerous feeder for drivers heading to the Gowanus Expressway or the Belt Parkway. Decolvenaere was, in fact, killed almost at the entrance to the Belt.

No wonder there have been 41 crashes since 2018 on the blocks on either side of where Decolvenaere was killed, injuring one pedestrian and seven motorists, according to city stats. Since 2014, 174 cyclists and 540 pedestrians have been injured in Bay Ridge by drivers. Four pedestrians have been killed.