A grief-stricken mom says state Sen. Carl Kruger is using her dead son to promote a bill that will force people to shut off their iPods when they cross the street — even though her child’s death had nothing to do with the popular device.
Kruger mentioned the death of 21-year-old Jason King in a press release about his bill, claiming that music was “blaring through [Jason King’s] headphones” and that he “failed to hear the backup signal” of the truck that struck and killed him as he left work on Madison Avenue on Dec. 7. Witnesses told police he was listening to his iPod when he was hit.
But his mom, Sonia King, says the device wasn’t a factor.
“My son was crossing the street legally in the crosswalk when a large construction truck illegally backed into the crosswalk and killed him,” she wrote in a letter to Kruger. “The accident happened on a one way street.”
The truck that killed the man was backing up against traffic.
King said she was outraged when she learned that Kruger (D–Brighton Beach) used the tragedy to highlight his bill that would ban the use of iPods, cellphones and any other electronic devices while crossing city streets in an interview with WCBS news.
“People are literally dying in the street,” Kruger told WCBS news’s Marcia Kramer. “When people are doing things that are detrimental to their own well being, then government should step in.”
King said she was stunned when she watched the news clip.
“Nobody contacted the family,” King told the website Streetsblog.
In her letter to Kruger, King said the senator should get his facts straight before opening his mouth.
“[Kruger] used our son’s death to go for headlines and political pandering,” she said. “Shame on politician Kruger for leaving out the truth.”
King added that Kruger’s bill — which will fine pedestrians $100 if they’re caught crossing the streets while listening to iPods, talking on cellphones or texting — “will never pass,” and that the senator’s energies would be better served helping her fight for her son.
“How about demanding that the District Attorney prosecute this driver for killing a young man, politician Kruger?” King wrote.
The truck driver responsible for Jason King’s death received several summonses and is currently facing 15 days in jail for not checking his surroundings before reversing.
Kruger submitted his anti-iPod listening bill on Jan. 14. This is its second go-around: He introduced the same bill in 2007, but it never caught any steam and died in committee.
It appears that the rebooted bill may suffer the same fate. Kruger’s colleagues in Albany apparently consider the bill a triviality, and no one has co-sponsored it.
Even Transportation Alternatives, advocates of pedestrian safety, have shot it down.
“IPods don’t kill pedestrians, reckless drivers do,” explained Paul Steely White, the group’s executive director. “If the senator wants to protect New Yorkers from being killed by cars and trucks, he should focus on rampant speeding and failure to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.”
Kruger said he didn’t know if his office received King’s letter, but was unapologetic about upsetting a grieving mother.
“We used the information that was supplied to us at the time,” Kruger said, adding that several newspapers noted that Jason King was listening to his iPod when he was killed. “All we did was use the accident, as depicted, to make a point.”