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.