Police arrest and charge driver for allegedly fatally striking civil rights leader Norman Fruchter

handcuffs arrest of driver in death of norman fruchter
Cops have arrested a man who allegedly struck and killed a civil rights leader in Bay Ridge last year.
File photo courtesy of Getty Images

Police have arrested a 42-year-old man on four charges including criminally negligent homicide for allegedly striking and killing local civil rights leader Norman Fruchter in Bay Ridge last year.

According to an NYPD spokesperson, officers charged Jorge Gonzalez-Cadme on July 24 with criminally negligent homicide, reckless driving, “imprudent speed,” and unsafe backing of a vehicle in the fatal crash. 

On December 22, 2022, police responded to a 911 call of a vehicle collision involving a pedestrian at near the intersection of 68 Street and Bliss Terrace, just south of Owl’s Head Park. Officers found the 85-year old-victim — later identified Fruchter — lying on the road with head trauma.

Emergency responders transported Fruchter to NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn, where he was pronounced dead on January 4, 2023. 

A later investigation found Gonzalez-Cadme was reversing a 2021 Hyundai Elantra eastbound on 68th Street when he allegedly struck Fruchter as he crossed from the north side of the street to the south side on foot.

The driver remained on the scene and was not injured.

Community leaders remembered Norman Fruchter at a vigil earlier this year.
Community leaders remembered Fruchter at a vigil earlier this year.File photo courtesy of Council Member Justin Brannan

Locals honored the civil rights activist at a vigil days after his death, gathering at Owl’s Head Park to remember the leader and advocate for better traffic safety. 

“Confronting traffic violence also means taking personal responsibility + safe driving habits. It will take all of us,” Council Member Justin Brannan said in a tweet about Fruchter’s death.

According to family and friends, Fruchter was known for his work in education reform to ensure children of all ethnic backgrounds could be granted a fair public education. 

A statement from NYU Steinhardt Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools issued after his death called Fruchter “a change-making school leader, community organizer, and academic” who will be remembered as a “visionary” and “radical organizer.”

Frutcher’s death was one of many vehicle related tragedies including his late wife Rachel, who was killed by a reckless driver in Prospect Park in 1997. Her death spurred the Vision Zero initiative working to eradicate traffic related deaths. 

According to data released by the Department of Transportation, Brooklyn leads the city in pedestrian fatalities, accounting for 34% of pedestrian deaths in car crashes. According to data-tracking website CrashMapper, three people have been injured in crashes on 68th Street near Owl’s Head Park since 2018 — two cyclists and one driver.