Teenager Who May Have Been Driving Illegally Kills Queens Pedestrian with a Massive Truck

The pedestrian was struck as the Ford F-150 was entering this tire shop on Northern Boulevard. Photo: Google
The pedestrian was struck as the Ford F-150 was entering this tire shop on Northern Boulevard. Photo: Google

A 16-year-old boy who was driving a massive Ford F-150 — illegally, given his age — struck and killed a 19-year-old pedestrian on Northern Boulevard on Thursday afternoon, the Department of Transportation said.

According to preliminary information, Sara Perez was walking on the sidewalk in front of a tire shop at the corner of Northern Boulevard and 107th Street in Corona at around 4:50 p.m. when the driver, whose name was not released, struck her with his 4,800-pound pickup truck as he entered the repair shop.

Perez was knocked to the pavement and suffered head trauma. EMS took her to Elmhurst Hospital, where she died. Meanwhile, the teen driver remained on the scene and was not charged. A video obtained by the Daily News shows that the driver was clearly in error, first backing up out of the location, then moving forward without steering. The newspaper also said the victim was 18.

Streetsblog asked the NYPD a welter of questions to determine the driver’s legal status, but they remain unanswered.

Residents who are 16 years of age can obtain a learner’s permit to drive in New York City, but they cannot get a driver’s license until reaching at least six months after obtaining the learner’s permit, and then passing a road test. The resulting license would be considered a “junior license” until the driver reaches age 18.

People with “junior licenses” cannot legally drive in New York City, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles. “If you have a Class DJ or MJ junior license, you cannot drive within the five boroughs of New York City under any circumstances,” the agency website says.

The website also offers the following advice, “Junior permit holders who plan to drive a lot in New York City should delay their road test until their 18th birthday to allow for more practice driving with approved supervising drivers in vehicles with dual controls (dual brakes).”

Under the provisions of a junior license, the driver of the Ford F-150 should have his license suspended after the crash. But NYPD spokeswoman Det. Sophia Mason would not comment on the investigation, saying only that it is ongoing.

More troubling is that the F-150 associated with this crash has been nabbed by city cameras for speeding in school zones three times since Sept. 28, including twice this year. A camera-issued speeding ticket on Jan. 20 was issued just a few blocks away from the crash site on Northern Boulevard.

Camera-issued tickets do not count against a driver’s license — but if they had, a single ticket would be enough to trigger the suspension of a junior license.

The area of the crash is notorious for injuries and collisions. Last year, there were 11 crashes on either side of the intersection in question, injuring seven motorists. Since 2017, 42 people have been injured there.

The city has struggled to make Northern Boulevard safer. In the two full years between Jan. 1 2020 and Dec. 31, 2021, there were 412 reported crashes along Northern between the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and 108th Street, a stretch of just two miles. Those crashes injured 27 cyclist, 36 pedestrians and 147 motorists.

Those numbers are going in the wrong direction. Over the same stretch of roadway in the two years between Jan. 1, 2018 and Dec. 31, 2018, 191 people were injured — 19 fewer.

Here’s a breakdown of injuries on Northern Boulevard:

  • 2014: 139
  • 2015: 100
  • 2016: 118
  • 2017: 105
  • 2018: 86
  • 2019: 105
  • 2020: 107
  • 2021: 103

Thursday’s death continues a pedestrian death crisis this year, part of a larger increase in road violence this year, according to DOT:

Chart: DOT
Chart: DOT