UPDATE: Hit-and-run driver kills 6-year-old boy in Williamsburg

Wiliamsburg fatal bus crash boy
A driver hit and killed a boy on S. Fifth Street in Williamsburg on Feb. 24.
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

A hit-and-run school bus driver killed a 6-year-old boy right outside his S. Fifth Street home in Williamsburg Wednesday morning.

Shimon Fried was on his way to school with his 9-year-old brother between Hooper and Hewes streets around 8:30 am, when the driver of a yellow bus struck and dragged the younger child, before fleeing the scene, according to police and witnesses on the scene. 

The older brother got on the bus just before the fatal incident, Sergeant Robert Denig of the Police Department’s Collision Investigation Squad told reporters at the scene on Feb. 24.

“Kids run to catch the bus all the time by themselves,” said Mildred Batista, who saw the deadly crash. 

Seconds after the older brother got on the bus, the driver closed the door and started to move, which is when he hit younger child, according to a Police Department spokeswoman. 

Cops picked up the driver a few blocks away at Bedford Avenue and Hewes Street and took him to the 90th Precinct station house for questioning, but have not made any arrests as of Thursday morning, said the spokeswoman. 

Minutes after the incident, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus driver found the deceased boy on the street and alerted the authorities around 8:35 am, according to police. 

The Canarsie-bound B60 bus remained at the intersection and a white sheet was draped over the boy’s body around 9:45 am Wednesday.

MTA’s head of buses issued his condolences to the child’s family and voiced his support for bus driver who discovered the body.

“This is a tragedy for all involved and our hearts go out to the child’s family as well as to our colleague driving the B60 bus that came upon the scene and first discovered the horrible aftermath,” said Craig Cipriano in a statement. “We are fully cooperating with the NYPD investigation and providing all possible support to the bus operator as she recovers from trauma.”

The crash marks the second time a motorist hit and killed a young child in the borough in as many months this year, after a van driver fatally struck 4-year-old Staten Islander Yoshi Balaban and critically injured a 5-year-old boy after dropping them off at their Bensonhurst yeshiva on Jan. 4.

That driver was arrested on Feb. 16 and charged with Criminally Negligent Homicide, Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Death, and Acting in a Manner Injurious to a Child Less Than 17 Years of Age. 

Cars have crashed into and injured at least 13 more people on that block of S. Fifth Street in 10 incidents since 2011, according to data from NYC Crash Mapper. Just a block away at Hooper Street and Broadway, an on-duty NYPD cop hit and killed a 61-year-old man with her police van in 2013. 

Hit-and-runs have been on the rise over the past five years, with 43,310 incidents in 2015 and 46,962 in 2019. The number dropped to 39,299 amid the pandemic in 2020, but arrest rates have hovered around a mere 1 percent during that timeframe, dropping to 0.89 percent for last year, according to NYPD data

Wednesday’s crash happened on the same morning the Council held a hearing about a bill to shift crash investigations from the Police to the Department of Transportation and safe streets advocates pushed for legislators and Mayor Bill de Blasio to pass that law.

“Every New Yorker lost to traffic violence is a tragedy. And, the growing number of hit-and-runs suggests that our mayor is losing control over his streets to reckless drivers. This is compounded by the NYPD’s abysmal record of solving these crimes, making arrests in less than one percent of fatal hit-and-runs. The status quo is not working,” said Transportation Alternatives executive director Danny Harris in a statement. “Unless Mayor de Blasio takes immediate action to save lives and save his Vision Zero legacy, more people, including children, will die.”

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

Additional reporting by Lloyd Mitchell.