Throw away the keys: Driver who killed cyclist loses license for six months

The Brooklyn Paper
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The truck driver who ran over and killed a Bushwick artist in October 2011 will lose his license for six months, the Department of Motor Vehicles decided on March 17.

Driver Leonardo Degianni, who video showed did not signal before he veered into 30-year-old cyclist Mathieu Lefevre in Williamsburg, dragged Lefevre 40 feet, then left the scene, will face no criminal charges in the artist’s death and will be able to get behind the wheel again in September. Friends and family of Lefevre, a Montreal native, said the punishment is not enough.

“Six months suspension for a professional driver whose traffic violations directly caused a fatality seems insufficie­nt,” said Erika Lefevre, the mother of the artist who moved here from Canada to pursue his craft. “But at least it is an acknowledgment of the fault of the driver. The suspension of his license will at least keep New Yorkers safer for that six-month period.”

Lefevre’s death outraged his family and cyclists across Brooklyn, who claimed the NYPD did not properly investigate the incident and stonewalled their inquiries. They were also upset that Degianni, who ran Lefevre over while making a right turn onto Meserole Street from Morgan Avenue late at night, was punished with just a couple of traffic summonses for the fatal collision. Degianni has maintained that he was unaware that he hit anyone. He did not testify at his Department of Motor Vehicles hearing in early March.

Traffic Judge Marc Berger put the blame for Lefevre’s death squarely on Degianni.

“Had he signaled at least 100 feet prior to turning, as required [by law], Mr. Lefevre would have been alerted before he even reached the truck, and been able to protect himself by taking evasive action,” Berger wrote in his decision.

Some heralded the case and the suspension of Degianni’s license as the beginning of a sea change in prosecuting drivers who kill, even if the punishment was slight.

“Sadly, it is more than any other driver who has killed someone in our group has faced,” said Amy Cohen, who is a founding member of Families for Safe Streets, a group made up of those whose loved ones have been killed by car drivers.

Cohen is the mother of 12-year-old Samuel Cohen Eckstein, who was killed by a van driver in Park Slope in 2013. The motorist was not charged in the case.

“Sadly, this is progress,” Cohen said.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

jay from nyc says:
I feel bad for these folks but to be legally punished, as they are demanding, you have to be able to show a crime occurred, and negligence is typically NOT a crime. May be a civil suit for negligence, but an accident is not a crime
March 19, 2015, 6:40 pm
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
the real crime here is calling this hipster an artist. His work was absolute dung and mostly consisted of him stacking up dried paint. After a drunken night of creating ART ART ART he got on a black fixie with no lights or reflectors and ran a red light. Seems it worked out well for him. Here is some of his art. If my grammar school kid created this I would ask that the teacher be fired. He was not an artist.....he owned paint....its different
March 19, 2015, 6:50 pm
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
March 19, 2015, 6:50 pm
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
Jay -- There's a thing called "criminal negligence."
March 19, 2015, 7:01 pm
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
Jay -- There's a thing called "criminal negligence."
March 19, 2015, 7:01 pm
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
March 19, 2015, 7:01 pm
Mom from Clinton Hill says:
Vision Zero is about right... zero vigilance, zero change.
March 19, 2015, 9:14 pm
SwampYankee from runined Brooklyn says:
Vision Zero is about the number of red lights cyclist stop for.........Zero
March 20, 2015, 4:51 am
Zero Vision from Vision Zero says:
Wake up people Vision Zero isn't about preventing deaths, it's about raising revenue. The plan does nothing to address the two biggest reasons for deaths, failure to give the right away and jay walking. But it will raise a whole heap of money for your crooked politicians to play around with.
March 20, 2015, 7 am
Adrian from Park Slope says:
You're a sick person SwampYankee, I suggest you get some help. By the way, Mathieu did not run a red light here. If he had, he would have been clear of the truck and would have been alive today.
March 20, 2015, 8:13 am
Brooklynite from Brooklyn says:
The Brooklyn Paper comments are terrible. Someone needs to ban SwampYankee. A person's son is dead, through no fault of his own. Shame on you.
March 20, 2015, 8:50 am
MTA from NY says:
I would like to see this swampyakee person say this vitriol to the family of the victim but I doubt he has the stones. You are a sick person and shame on you.
March 20, 2015, 8:52 am
bkmanhatman from nubrucklyn says:
Figures SwampYankee would just go after the cyclist and side with the inhuman mook truck driver.
March 20, 2015, 9:18 am
crosstian says:
I am praying for SwampYankee. May it and its family live long, happy lives, free from the pain of traffic violence.
March 20, 2015, 10:23 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
I hate to say it on the air like this, but it seems that this "Swamp Yanker" charactor is just a tad out of line here on this message board.
I can't judge until all the facts are in, of course.
Pardon the interruption.
March 20, 2015, 11:10 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
Swamp Yanker is a wanker. Let the dead rest is peace. Beside, Mr. Lefevre art skills are irrelevant to the issue of his death. In truth, there is too much traffic law infringement from everyone; pedestrians, bikers and motorists.
March 20, 2015, 12:23 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
"too much traffic law infringement from everyone; "

You said it!
March 20, 2015, 12:27 pm
Alan from Crown Heights says:
John Wasserman— in this case, the facts are in. There is a video available online of the truck driver making a right-hand turn from the left lane without signalling while the bicyclist is proceeding forward with the green light in the right lane. The driver turns across the cyclist's path and kills him, then drives away.

Sadly enough, it's progress that he loses his license for 6 months over this crime!
March 20, 2015, 12:53 pm
DOugE from Brooklyn says:
This ain't the Brooklyn of the 1950's.... you are taking your life into your hands when you mount a bicycle and hit the mean pothole streets of todays brooklyn. Bike lane or not, Bicycle, motorcycle or scooter. It's a gamble with a bet you cannot afford to loose. New York is a city if immigrants, over half the drivers cannot speak or read the language and the driving style of the old world comes with them.
March 20, 2015, 3:26 pm
RWordPlay says:
Good morning. Hope your day is s/well.
March 21, 2015, 7:15 am
Both Sides from Bushwick says:
Mr. DiGianni is a family man who I believe did not realize he struck the cyclist. He is a middle class man who is heartbroken over this tragedy. Put yourself in his shoes before you judge.
So may two wheelers take for granted that they will be seen and yielded to on these busy streets. This is not Hong Kong! Ride as if no one can see you! The life you save may be your own. Pray for Mr. deGianni, don't condemn him. And of course, pray for the victim. Walk a mile...
March 23, 2015, 12:54 pm

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