Park Slope

Prevalence of hit-and-run accidents in Brooklyn leads to push for reform

November 4, 2013 By Charisma L. Miller, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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A Brooklyn man is facing multiple charges, including criminally negligent homicide, in connection with a crash that killed a 9-year-old boy and injured two others.

Police arrested Anthony Byrd, 59, of Brooklyn. He also faces counts including assault, reckless driving, and criminal mischief.

Authorities say Byrd was making a turn onto a Brooklyn street just before 1 p.m. last Saturday when he attempted to avoid two pedestrians in the crosswalk and hit a car. Police said he continued to hit other cars and some pedestrians. One of those struck was a 9-year-old boy, who was hit on the sidewalk. The boy was pronounced dead at the scene.

Byrd was taken into custody. A man who answered a call to a telephone number listed for him said he didn’t know much about the situation.

Byrd’s action is similar to the accident that killed Samuel Cohen-Eckstein early October. The 12-year old boy from Park Slope was killed after being hit by a driver of a commercial van.  Cohen-Eckstein’s family recently testified at a City Council hearing on a bill to reduce the driving speed for cars in residential neighborhoods.

“As best we understand it, he crossed into the intersection from Prospect Park West, with the light in his favor, to get a soccer ball,” said Cohen-Eckstein’s mother, Amy Cohen. “While he had the light when he entered the intersection, it quickly changed and he slipped and was hit by a van approaching the intersection at full speed.”

Brooklyn Councilmember David Greenfield (D-Borough Park/Midwood) introduced a bill that would reduce driving speeds from 30 to 20 miles per hour on residential side streets that are less than 60 feet wide. Despite the emotional testimony of family members of hit-and-run victims, there are still plenty of legal issues surrounding the bill that needs to be worked out.

“This bill will not allow us to build on gains in traffic safety,” taxi lobbyist David Pollack said at the hearing. “The bill does not define with sufficient clarity what is a residential neighborhood.”

A recent New York City Police Department speeding report, obtained by the New York Daily News, revealed that two police precincts covering the area from Park Slope to Red Hook did not write a single speeding ticket in the month of September.

Councilmember James Vacca (D-Bronx) showed his support for Greenfield’s proposed measure stating that “[w]e cannot keep this city safe for pedestrians and other motorists with only speed bumps.”

Both mayoral candidates, Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota, have expressed support for this legislation.

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