Unlicensed Driver Kills Staten Island Pedestrian near Ferry Terminal

The pedestrian was crossing Van Duzer Street, walking towards the camera that took this picture. Photo: Google
The pedestrian was crossing Van Duzer Street, walking towards the camera that took this picture. Photo: Google

A hit-and-run driver struck and killed a Staten Island man near the island’s signature ferry terminal late on Thursday, but was later apprehended and arrested for driving without a license and for leaving the scene, police said.

Preliminary information was limited, but according to the NYPD, Waldemar Gonzalez, 65, was driving his massive F-150 pickup truck northbound on Van Duzer Street at around 9:30 p.m. on Thursday when he struck Alex Fakih, 49, as he was attempting to cross Van Duzer at St. Julian Place, a one-block street between busy Bay and Van Duzer streets.

EMTs rushed Fakih to Richmond University Medical Center, where he died. Gonzalez fled, but was located shortly after and arrested, police said.

The intersection in question is something of a Wild West of transportation design; at St. Julian Place, northbound Van Duzer splits into two roadways — Van Duzer Street and Van Duzer Street Extension, forcing pedestrians to cross a wide stretch to get to safety (cops say Fakih was, indeed, crossing Van Duzer from west to east, when he was struck on Van Duzer Street Extension). Archival photos provided by Google show that over time, the DOT has actually provided less cross-hatched paint to indicate to drivers where they are supposed to go.

Chart: DOT
Chart: DOT

Drivers tend to speed on Van Duzer. Since 2017, according to city statistics, there have been 147 reported crashes on just the 16 short blocks of Van Duzer between its northern and southern intersections with parallel St. Pauls Avenue. Those crashes caused injuries to three cyclists, eight pedestrians and 38 motorists.

A city speed camera mounted on the right fork of Van Duzer at Bay Street, one block from Thursday’s crash site, issued more than 13,000 tickets last year, according to city stats.

The crash site is in the same area of Van Duzer where the DOT installed bus-friendly speed humps that do little to retard drivers as they race up the roadway, as Streetsblog found in this seminal video.

Fakih is 53rd pedestrian and the 117th person to die on New York City roads so far this year, according to DOT (see chart).