Hizzoner calls for stiffer punishments on careless drivers in wake of deadly Slope crash

Garden of tears: Park Slope resident Nancy Scherl wept over roses she laid next to more flowers, stuffed animals, and other tokens of grief left in memorial to two children killed in a fatal crash at Ninth Street and Fifth Avenue on Monday.
Brooklyn Paper
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Harsher penalties must be dealt to reckless drivers whose behavior behind the wheel results in tragic collisions, Mayor DeBlasio told a crowd that rallied to confront him Tuesday morning as he left his gym on the same Park Slope street where a driver hit and killed two children on Monday.

“If someone has shown because of their actions they could endanger other human beings with a vehicle, and use that vehicle as a weapon, there should be more stringent penalties,” Hizzoner said.

More than 100 traffic watchdogs converged on the Prospect Park YMCA on Ninth Street the day after a Staten Island woman drove her white Volvo sedan through a red light and into five pedestrians crossing that street at Fifth Avenue, killing 1-year-old Joshua Lew and 4-year-old Abigail Blumenstein, and injuring three others, including Blumenstein’s pregnant mother, Tony Award–winning actress Ruthie Ann Miles.

The mayor emerged from the gym in workout gear shortly after 9 am, calling on state legislators to stiffen penalties for lawbreaking motorists and for the installation of more speed cameras around the city in response to advocates’ demands for safety improvements at the site of the deadly crash.

But DeBlasio’s solutions merely retaliate against already committed crimes, and fail to prevent collisions in advance by implementing traffic-calming measures on treacherous roadways like Ninth Street, an organizer of the rally told the mayor in response.

“I don’t want drivers pulled over for speeding … I want streets that drivers look at and say, ‘I’m a guest here,’ ” Doug Gordon, who blogs about street safety on Brooklyn Spoke, said to DeBlasio. “I don’t want cops to arrest my child’s killer, I want my child not to be killed.”

Hours after the protest, investigators said the woman may have experienced a seizure at the time she accelerated into the victims, and Gordon admitted that no amount of infrastructure improvements could prevent crashes caused by certain uncontrollable circumstances.

“There’s no way of knowing exactly what would have made the difference here,” he said. “There are times you can look at things and say maybe nothing would have worked.”

But Gordon said the recorded five fatalities along Ninth Street since 2004, in addition to the 33 injuries suffered on the road since 2010, suggest chronic hazards that can be fixed through sensible traffic-safety improvements.

“If it had been the only crash in recent history, yeah, then maybe this wouldn’t be the time or place to call for improvements, but when you look at the overall pattern, it suggests something more needs to be done,” he said.

And as advocates pushed for change outside the YMCA, mourners congregated around floral bouquets and other tokens of grief laid down the block in honor of the victims, for whom some openly wept tears of grief.

“We’re such a close-knit community,” said Park Slope resident Nancy Scherl, who left roses at a memorial outside the Chase Bank on Fifth Avenue near Ninth Street. “When something happens to one person, it happens to everybody.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:48 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
Doug Gordon is right. De Blasio is wrong again.
March 7, 2018, 9:57 am
Attention Grabbing from Park Slope says:
Attention Grabbing is all this is.

Creating fines for "accidents" will be as effective as "vision zero".

Humans error and if we think we can eliminate human error with fines and advertising signs (Vision Zero), we're in for a rude awakening.

The mayor will get some good PR, the city will gets some more money (from us), and nothing will be accomplished.

I would suggest something more thoughtful though which would be to put speed humps at the crosswalks themselves. Such will not only naturally slow down motorists at the intersection where we need it to happen most, but raise up pedestrians so they are more visible to motorists.

Note that speed humps in the middle of the block do nothing to increase safety and only make matters worse; this is because once a motorist clears a speed hump, they naturally seek to regain their speed and often increase it for risk of catching the light. Further, as no one belongs crossing in the middle of the block, what are we protecting there anyway!
March 7, 2018, 10:07 am
Tyler from pps says:
So... it's "human error" but then you describe a remedy that gets at correcting fundamental human behavior?

Hmmm.... Sounds like most automotive collisions, injuries and deaths might actually be caused by something other than "human error," perhaps it's bad behavior?

"Ooops! I didn't know driving at 45 mph down a city street would lead to a problem."

"Ooopsie! How would I have known that running red lights would lead to a collision or squishing a child?!"

"Ooops! How would I be expected to know that ramming my car into a crosswalk instead of waiting to turn safely would break someone's leg?"
March 7, 2018, 10:20 am
Tyler from pps says:
On another note -- I am getting VERY tired of people being killed and the driver "not immediately charged" or ever.

What other situation is like that?

If the cops arrive to find a woman stabbed someone to death, they would arrest her and charge her. And THEN due process would start and, if it turns out it was self-defense or a psychotic break or something, charges can be *dropped*

Imagine if you killed someone and the police told you, "Alright. Have a nice night. We might be in touch later." That's just loony.
March 7, 2018, 10:26 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I will only agree to this if the same will go to pedestrians and cyclists that flout the laws as well, but we know that won't happen, because anti-car fanatics such as Paul Steely White will be crying foul to that despite wanting motorists to follow every letter of the law and have those strictly enforced.
March 7, 2018, 3:38 pm
old time brooklyn from slope says:
this is a tragedy - no argument
there seems to be medical/mental issues and if so why was she still licensed
this is up to the courts to decide and not social media aka the new mccarthyism
btw - tal tends to be correct
March 8, 2018, 11:45 am
Tyler from pps says:
"tal tends to be correct"

Hahahahahaha! It's comedy hour!
March 8, 2018, 3:22 pm
old time brooklyn from slope says:
lol ty - your name always gets a laugh

hey - as i recall the brooklyn paper offered to interview you and do a feature article - so what happened? (crickets) bwa ha ha ha
March 10, 2018, 10:06 am
old time brooklyn from slope says:
hey ty - i would love to go down on you and suck you dry. then finish with a nice long rimjob.
March 10, 2018, 11:55 am
Bill Dumb Blasio from Mayor says:
Me so stupid !
March 11, 2018, 7:49 am
Blake from Rego Park says:
It would figure something like this HAD to happen in park slope. Now it will be even more of a pain to get to sunset park or downtown via local roads. Guess Ill just be late for work EVERYDAY.
March 15, 2018, 8:54 am

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