‘He was the sweetest thing ever’: Family of Hamilton Avenue hit-and-run victim demands justice

Imorne Horton shrine
A shrine for Imorne Horton, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver at Hamilton Avenue and Court Street on Feb. 24.
Photo by Kevin Duggan

Family members of fatal hit-and-run victim Imorne Horton demanded justice for their lost loved-one at a vigil Friday, after a driver struck the Red Hook resident and left him to die on Hamilton Avenue last week. 

“I’m hoping that there will be justice served for my son and that the person is apprehended and will be incarcerated for killing my child,” said Horton’s mother, Tasha Horton, at the March 5 gathering near the scene near Court Street. “I miss him dearly. I just hope that I get justice for him.”

The 31-year-old died after a driver hit him while he crossed the busy four-lane avenue at the Carroll Gardens-Red Hook border on Feb. 24 around 6:40 pm. The motorist then fled the scene.

Family members remembered Horton as a sweet and kind soul who was always there for others.

“He always looked out for us, protected us as best as he could,” said his younger sister Alaywa Andujar. “He was the sweetest thing ever. He didn’t deserve this at all and I just want whoever did this to come forward.”

To honor his memory, Horton’s loved ones set up a shrine at the small Cough Triangle park. The small sitting area is positioned at the intersection amid the constant din of cars and trucks barreling down the two-way, eight-lane throughway and the elevated Gowanus Expressway above.

Many relatives could not fathom how the driver could leave their loved one to die in the middle of the roadway. 

“I don’t why anybody would just leave him there – seriously,” said Horton’s brother Shacory Andujar through tears. 

“In broad daylight, when there’s traffic how can he just keep on going, not even to call 911 and say, ‘I think I hit someone or anything.’ Just leave him there like that,” added sister-in-law Nieve Hernandez. 

Horton’s family and friends mourned their lost loved one at a vigil March 5.Photo by Kevin Duggan

Investigators found who they believe to be the driver and took the person in for questioning Thursday, but have yet to make any arrests, according to a Police Department spokeswoman. 

Horton was the second fatal hit-and-run in the borough that day, after a school bus driver fatally struck 6-year-old Shimon Fried outside his S. Fifth Street home in Williamsburg at around 8:30 am.

The City Council was also holding a hearing that day about a proposed bill to transfer oversight of crash investigations from NYPD to DOT, after cops made arrests in less than 1 percent of cases in 2020.

Some 35 people have been injured in 24 crashes at the intersection during the past decade, according to NYC Crash Mapper

The treacherous crossing where Imorne Horton was killed by a driver.Photo by Kevin Duggan

In response to the treacherous stretch of roadway, the Department of Transportation lowered the speed limit from 30 to 25 miles-per-hour on a 1.9 span of Hamilton Avenue from Luquer to 18th streets in early 2020, aiming to calm traffic on the heavily-utilized eight-lane thoroughfare.

The city previously studied Hamilton Avenue as part of a larger Red Hook transportation analysis in 2014 and recommended installing buffers along the sidewalk, along with a host of other improvements, like better lighting, and sprucing up the derelict medians with greenery and seating.

Almost seven years later, the roadway remains largely unchanged, and local Councilman Brad Lander said that officials had failed to act before it was too late. 

“[The] report said we have to do better, and we failed, we failed Imorne,” said the pol. “But we’re not going to fail his memory and that’s why we’re out here today.”

Lander and a group of area city, state, and federal politicians sent a letter to DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman March 4 demanding the agency make the street safer by making crossing times longer, add speed and red light cameras, and implement the 2014 report’s recommendations.