Park Slope residents and other passersby on March 5 laid mementos and offered silent prayers at a memorial near the Fifth Avenue intersection where a driver hit and killed two kids as they crossed the street one year ago to that day.
One pint-sized mourner struggled to comprehend the deadly collision that killed 1-year-old Joshua Lew and 4-year-old Abigail Blumenstein as he stopped to leave a note at the Ninth Street shrine.
“I just can’t get over the fact that they’re dead,” said a Park Slope middle-school student Neftali.
The kids died after motorist Dorothy Bruns ran a red light and struck them and their mothers, including Blumenstein’s then-pregnant mom, Tony Award–winning actress Ruthie Ann Miles, who months later miscarried her unborn child due to injuries sustained in the crash.
Law-enforcement officials subsequently arrested and charged Bruns with reckless manslaughter, with prosecutors claiming she got behind the wheel that day against the order of doctors, who told the seizure-prone driver to stay off the road due to her history of epileptic fits — one of which allegedly struck her moments before she smashed into the pedestrians. But the defendant — who faced 15 years behind bars — never made it to trial, because she allegedly died by suicide in her Staten Island home last October.
Another local who runs a business near the crash site said Bruns’s shocking death troubled her as much as the tragic deaths of the two children.
“All I can think about is how awful it is,” said entrepreneur Peggy, who lives in Bay Ridge. “She must not have been able to live with the guilt and pain of this.”
Following the collision, the city redesigned Ninth Street between Prospect Park West and Third Avenue, installing protected bike lanes and so-called bulb-outs to narrow intersections along the stretch. But the redesigned street will do little to prevent future crashes if the city does not also beef up enforcement along the road, according to a Red Hooker who works in Park Slope.
“It wasn’t the bike lane that was the problem … they need a police presence or something over here,” said Kristen.
— with Natallie Rocha