Community mourns cyclist who was fatally struck in Brownsville

Tragic: Joyce Cannady mourned the death of her nephew Ernest Askew, 57, who died after an 18-year-old motorist struck him at the intersection of Chester Street and Sutter Avenue in Brownsville, at a vigil at the fatal junction on July 1.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Mourners gathered in Brownsville Monday to honor the memory of a local cyclist, who a teenage driver struck and killed last week.

Safe streets advocates and local politicians joined the family of 57-year-old Ernest Askew to mourn his untimely passing, and demand action from law enforcement in the face of rising cyclist fatalities.

“At this point if you don’t leave the accident you get off scot free and that’s not right,” said Peter Storey, president of the recreational cycling group New York Cycle Club.

Storey used the occasion to promote better biking infrastructure in Brownsville, echoing Borough President Eric Adam’s claim that the neighborhood and its cyclists suffer from the city’s neglect.

“Borough President Adams was correct in saying that Brownsville has too often been forgotten — on many issues — and we need do something about that,” he said. “The vigil was very moving and let’s hope that something comes out of it.”

Askew was pedaling east along Sutter Avenue on June 27, when an 18-year-old driver struck the biker as he attempted to cross Chester Street, cops said.

In memory: Safe streets advocate Courtney Williams, also known as Brown Bike Girl, affixes flowers to a plaque dedicated to Askew at the fatal junction where a driver hit and killed him on June 27.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Paramedics rushed both men to Brookdale Hospital, where the biker was pronounced dead and the driver was treated for a hand injury, cops said.

Police have not arrested or summonsed the driver and the investigation remains ongoing, according to a police spokesman.

Dozens of cyclists held up their bikes in the air during a moment of silence at the vigil and activists with Ghost Bikes hung a sign at the intersection, which read, “Cyclist killed here, rest in peace.”

Askew is one of 15 city cyclists to die in 2019, compared to 10 during all of last year, and one of three within a span of seven days.

On the same day as his vigil, Bushwick woman Devra Freelander was killed when a cement truck struck her at a Williamsburg intersection.

Symbolic: Cyclists raised their bikes in a somber moment of silence at the vigil.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.

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