Driver who fatally crashed into girl then fled Bushwick scene will likely walk, cops say

Driver who fatally crashed into girl then fled Bushwick scene will likely walk, cops say
Community News Group / Ben Verde

A driver fatally hit a 4-year-old while pulling out of a Bushwick laundromat’s parking lot on Sunday then fled the scene, but cops, who caught up with the motorist about a block away from the deadly hit-and-run, likely will not arrest her, a spokesman said.

“There are no arrests, there likely will not be, because there’s no evidence or probable cause to arrest her,” Police Department spokesman Sergeant Jones said on Monday afternoon. “No one is in custody.”

Youngster Luz Gonzalez was aboard her scooter at 4:30 pm when she and her mother passed the Clean City Laundry Center at the corner of Hart Street and Wyckoff Avenue, whose parking lot allows motorists to park perpendicularly to Hart Street, and requires them to drive on the sidewalk to enter and leave its spots.

And as the mom stopped to bend down and tie Gonzalez’s shoe on the sidewalk along Hart Street, the woman behind the wheel of a 2018 Nissan Rogue sport-utility vehicle — a model likely equipped with rearview cameras, according to a Streetsblog report — reversed out of a parking space onto the sidewalk, then turned to drive onto Hart Street, accelerating into the mother and toddler, according to authorities and video footage of the incident this newspaper obtained from cameras at a Wyckoff Avenue grocery store opposite the laundromat.

The video shows the motorist’s car noticeably bounce up and down as she ran over the child before driving away from the scene on Hart Street, where an officer stopped her minutes later between Irving and Knickerbocker avenues, according to Jones, who could not say whether police interviewed the driver while she was behind the wheel, or after taking her to the local station house, before they let her go.

Paramedics rushed Gonzalez and her mom to Wyckoff Hospital, where doctors pronounced the girl dead, and treated the mother for cuts to her left leg, authorities said.

A separate Police Department spokeswoman explained the driver smashed into the mom and daughter because she could not see them.

“The female was tieing the 4-year-old’s shoes. At that same instance, the driver was pulling out of the parking area and didn’t see them — they were both bending down so it was like a blind spot,” said Cadet Diaz.

When asked if prosecutors would charge the driver for the fatal hit-and-run — a felony according to state law — of if they saw the footage of the collision, a spokesman for the district attorney declined to comment, except to say the crash is under investigation.

Earlier this year, prosecutors declined to charge an unlicensed garbage-truck driver for hitting and killing a cyclist in Greenpoint last July, claiming the trucker didn’t know he ran over someone — an excuse many safe-street advocates called a bogus claim drivers use to get off the hook.

And the motorist isn’t the only one being investigated following the deadly incident — the laundromat’s parking lot may not be legal, according to a Department of Buildings spokesman, who said the agency sent inspectors to look into the store’s potentially illicit spots on Monday after two locals filed complaints about them earlier that day.

— with Ben Verde

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
In memoriam: Mourners created a tribute to youngster Luz Gonzalez in the parking lot, steps from where the hit-and-run driver fatally struck her.
Community News Group / Ben Verde