No charge for truck driver who killed cyclist while on no-truck route and did not yield – Streetsblog New York City
The driver who killed a 25-year-old cyclist on Wednesday has still not been charged with the death by the NYPD.
Police confirmed that truck driver Saeed Ahmed was neither summoned nor arrested, although he admitted to seeing cyclist Kala Santiago ahead of him on the narrow Parkside Avenue, but drove past it anyway, triggering a series of events that caused his death.
Parkside Avenue is not a truck route, yet Ahmed was driving an 18-wheeler with New Jersey plates on the roadway, which sits between two parks. A video obtained by reporter Liam Quigley suggests he was driving above the posted speed limit.
“She got nervous,” Ahmed told Streetsblog, blaming the victim for falling while walking past. But another photo from the scene shows a deep scar on the side of a parked truck, proof that Ahmed’s truck pushed Santiago’s handlebars with force:
In such cases, NYPD charges are rare, but do occur. In 2017, bus driver Dave Lewis was charged with not giving in after punching and killing cyclist Dan Hanegby in Manhattan – but the charges were only brought after video showed Lewis passing Hanegby on the narrow W. 26th Street, although there was very little room.
State law requires drivers of all vehicles to pass cyclists “at a safe distance until they are safely clear” of the cyclist. Drivers are also required to yield the right of way to cyclists and pedestrians and are required to operate their vehicles with “due caution”.
Yet Ahmed has not been charged. A legal expert who frequently defends victims of vehicle crime was stunned.
“At the bare minimum, a right-of-way law violation could stand,” Daniel Flanzig said, referring to the city’s own failure-to-yield law, known as Administrative Code 19-190. .
This law clearly states that “every operator of a motor vehicle who fails to yield the right of way to a pedestrian or person riding a bicycle when such pedestrian or person has the right of way is guilty of a violation of the Code of the road” and that “any driver…whose motor vehicle comes into contact with a pedestrian or a cyclist and thus causes bodily injury, is guilty of an offence. »
“He obviously saw Kala but failed to get past a safe distance,” Flanzig said.
Lawyer Steve Vaccaro, who also works with accident victims, posted his legal opinion on Twitter:
And now that I see the truck is a container ship, needless to say, it wasn’t on a “local delivery” that might have warranted driving down Parkside.
— Steve Vaccaro (@BicyclesOnly) October 12, 2022
The NYPD is already exonerating the driver with phraseology that *cyclist* hit *truck*. When both the cyclist and the truck are in motion at the time of contact, there is no relevance to “who hit whom”. The only relevant question is who had the right of way. Here, unquestionably, it was the cyclist.
— Steve Vaccaro (@BicyclesOnly) October 12, 2022
The NYPD said the investigation into Santiago’s fatal crash “remains ongoing” and such investigations sometimes lead to charges, but only when multiple crimes go beyond mere lack of care.
For example, the NYPD on Thursday announced two arrests in months-old cases involving reckless drivers who killed and injured pedestrians and cyclists:
- Tyler Green, 22, has been charged with murder, manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and several other counts stemming from a June 25 crash that killed Lynn Christopher, 67, on Ralph Avenue and Macon Street in Brooklyn. In that crash, cops say Green was pulled over by police for having mismatched license plates, but then spun the wrong way down the street, hit a cyclist, then a parked car, then Christoper and his 8-year-old grandson before running away.
- Roosevelt Rose, 56, has been charged with murder, manslaughter and other charges stemming from a bizarre May 8 incident that was caught on video allegedly showing Rose, who stole a truck , crashing slowly and repeatedly into a parked car. When residents of the block confronted him, he ran away, hitting another parked car which rammed three people, killing Florence Ngwu, 49.
Regarding the safety of cyclists on the roads, then-Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez (now DOT Commissioner) proposed a bill in 2019 that would “require drivers of motor vehicles to maintain a minimum distance of three feet when passing a bicycle, and would provide for a traffic violation for a driver who comes into contact with a cyclist while failing to exercise caution and fail to observe the three-foot distance. This bill, despite the support of the NYPD and the DOT, did not get a vote before the end of Rodriguez’s term.
The bill was not reassigned to a member of the new Council in the manner of other bills. Flanzig said such a bill was needed.
“New York State and New York City don’t have what the majority of the country has: a three-foot overtaking law,” he said. “At the moment we only have [a law that requires] a “reasonably” safe distance. A defined safe passage law is needed to prevent a tragedy like this, creating a safe buffer between a passing vehicle and a cyclist.
Santiago’s family members declined to speak to a Streetsblog reporter on Thursday evening.