Two Pedestrians are Killed on an Inwood Sidewalk After Multi-Car Crash

File photo: Dave Colon
File photo: Dave Colon

Two pedestrians were killed early on Wednesday after two cars collided on a notoriously dangerous upper Manhattan street and one jumped the curb, police said.

According to the preliminary report from the NYPD, the driver of a BMW was heading northbound on Sherman Avenue near W. 207th Street at around 4 a.m. when he hit a Subaru that was being driven southbound on Sherman.

The resulting collision sent the Subaru flying into two parked (and unoccupied) cars and then onto the sidewalk, where it killed two men: 31-year-old Joel Adames and 40-year-old David Fernandez.

Both drivers remained on the scene and were not immediately charged, though NYPD says the investigation is ongoing.

Media photos from the scene show that the BMW was carrying temporary — and perhaps fake — plates, while the Subaru had regular New York plates that reveal a school-zone speeding ticket and a red-light ticket issued on the same day this year. Other media outlets reported that one of the drivers had raced through a red light — and Transportation Alternatives pointed out that the neighborhood does not have a school zone speed camera and there’s only one red-light camera in Manhattan north of 96th Street.

“Right now, state law only allows red light cameras at 1 percent of signalized intersections in all five boroughs,” said Danny Harris, the group’s executive director. “This restriction is deadly, and we demand that Albany legislators lift the limits on the red light camera program to start saving lives.”

The NYPD declined to speculate if the drivers were speeding at the time of the crash, nor would the NYPD discuss the paper plate.

Earlier this summer, Mayor Adams said the NYPD and Sheriff’s office would crack down on “ghost cars,” i.e. cars that have fake plates, and he and NYPD Transportation Bureau Chief Kim Royster encouraged members of the public to call 311 when they see a car with a fraudulent tag. But according to a database of 311 complaints filed since that exhortation, only 99 cars out of 940 cars have been summonsed.

The scene of Wednesday's crash in an archival photo. Photo: Google
The scene of Wednesday’s crash in a recent image. Photo: Google

Safety on Sherman Avenue is compromised by the fact that it is a two-way street that is frequently clogged by double-parked trucks and cars, which encourages drivers to cross the center yellow line into oncoming traffic. The roadway featured two lanes of car traffic in each direction until the city put it on a road diet in mid-2016.

The road diet and painted bike lane have actually made the roadway slightly less safer and it remains unsafe today.

In the 30 months between January 2014 through June 2016, there were 175 reported crashes on just the five blocks of Sherman between Dyckman Street and 10th Avenue, injuring four cyclists, 19 pedestrians and 28 motorists (or 51 people total).

In the 30 months after the road diet was installed, there were 200 reported crashes, injuring five cyclists, 25 pedestrians and 40 motorists (or 70 people total).

The roadway has finally gotten statistically safer, but only a bit: over the most recent 30-month period, there were still 135 reported crashes, injuring four cyclists, 19 pedestrians and 35 motorists (or 58 people total).

Add it all up: Since January 2014, there have been 584 reported crashes on that very short stretch of roadway, injuring 15 cyclists, 72 pedestrians and 122 motorists (or 209 people total), city stats show.