‘Death Alley’: Driver Kills Woman on Atlantic Ave. Speedway in Brooklyn Heights

The scene of the brutal crash on Atlantic Avenue. Photo: Citizen App
The scene of the brutal crash on Atlantic Avenue. Photo: Citizen App

Police arrested a Brooklyn driver they say fatally struck a 31-year-old woman on Atlantic Avenue on Sunday night, throwing her body halfway down the block on the notoriously dangerous Brooklyn speedway.

The 27-year-old motorist was heading west at high speed at around 10 p.m., according to cops, when he slammed into fellow Brooklyn resident Katherine Harris, in the Clinton Street crosswalk. Harris had the light, cops said.

The driver, Erick S. Taxilaga Trujillo of Bensonhurst, continued on and hit the back of another car heading in the same direction, before slamming into an outdoor dining structure on the busy thoroughfare, cops said.

Harris died at the scene, and cops took the vehicle operator into custody, charging him with manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, assault, driving while ability impaired, and refusing to take a breath test.

A DWAI charge is for drivers who register a blood alcohol level of 0.05–0.07 percent, rendering them impaired but still below the 0.08 percent to be legally considered drunk.

The driver’s car was also caught speeding in a school zone in Queens less than a month ago on March 28, according to a public records search of his plate number provided by NYPD.

First responders draped Harris’s body in a white sheet, and the car was completely mangled at the front, coverage in the Brooklyn Paper showed.

The driver smashed into Harris at a such high speed that he sent her flying, a witness told Streetsblog.

“I see the young lady, she’s flying five feet in the air. Then she lands on the ground and she starts skidding another five feet,” said Malik, who declined to give his last name.

Another bystander heard the mayhem from half a block away.

“There was screaming and of course there was noise of collisions,” said Brooklyn Heights resident Jeffrey Smith. “It’s bad news.”

Harris was an an aesthetician and make-up artist and moved to the city from upstate Dutchess County in 2016, the Daily News reported. She lived just a half block away from where she was killed, according to the paper.

Atlantic Avenue is a wide open speedway cutting through Brooklyn with heavy truck traffic, and its large design more resembles an arterial roadway than a neighborhood street.

The thoroughfare has many restaurants and bars lining its curbs in that area, making it a hub of activity in the warmer months.

The roadway, stretching from the Brooklyn waterfront to Queens, also has the third-highest rate of people killed or seriously injured per mile in the borough, with the Department of Transportation designating a long stretch of it a Vision Zero priority corridor.

There were 27 crashes on the two-block stretch near Sunday’s crash in 2022, or more than two a month, injuring 16 people, including four pedestrians, and two cyclists.

A private garbage truck driver struck a pedestrian at the chaotic intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues a year ago, and hit-and-run motorists ran over a pair of seniors in two separate crashes in 2021.

Advocates with Transportation Alternatives previously proposed installing a center-running bike super highway on Atlantic Ave to reclaim space from cars and make the dangerous streets safer.

Smith, a longtime Brooklyn Heights resident, said the city has failed to make the known trouble corridor safer, saying officials must increase enforcement and install speed bumps.

“It’s just a death alley,” he said. “Somebody, the DOT, the cops, elected officials, all of those people have received tremendous complaints about this street… It’s got all the disaster ingredients and nothing is ever really done.”

The crash capped a weekend of carnage, when drivers killed three other pedestrians, two in Queens and one in The Bronx, as Streetsblog reported.