‘Turn yourself in,’ Brooklyn pols urge cowardly hit-and-run drivers

July 25, 2017 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
From left: Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White with Councilmembers Steven Levin, Ydanis Rodriguez and Mark Treyger. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
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In a somber gathering in Greenpoint on Tuesday at the site of one of last weekend’s two brutal hit-and-run deaths in Brooklyn, Councilmembers Ydanis Rodriguez, Stephen Levin and Mark Treyger called for the two cowardly drivers to turn themselves in — before the police get to them.  

“My colleagues and I will not rest, will not stop until justice is served,” Treyger, who represents the Gravesend district, where one of the victims lived, told reporters. 

“There are numerous businesses along this [Franklin Avenue, Greenpoint] stretch,” Levin said.  “There’s no doubt in my mind that we will be able to see video evidence that will show what [garbage] company it was and some ID on that truck. “

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The councilmembers were joined by Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, who noted that one of the victims was simply trying to ride home on his bicycle.  

“To the killer; the reckless driver; the careless, callous, heinous driver who committed this tragedy, you will be brought to justice,” he said. 

On Sunday afternoon, 18-year old Alejandro Tello was killed by a driver in a white BMW SUV as he rode across the street on his skateboard in Gravesend. The driver, who was turning at the time, ran him over, leaving him in critical condition in the middle of the street. Tello died hours later at Maimonidies Medical Center. 

Early Saturday morning, 27-year old Neftaly Ramirez was riding his bike when he was struck and killed by a driver in what is thought to be a green private garbage truck. This crash, which occurred on Franklin and Noble streets in Greenpoint, was the 11th cyclist death to occur in 2017. 

“These families deserve justice,” said Rodriguez, chair of the Transportation Committee.  “There is no more senseless or inhumane action than to leave a body lying in the street as you drive away.” 

Rodriguez pledged support to NYPD in their efforts to bring the killers to justice, but said that the laws needed to change.  He said he will be sponsoring a bill requiring NYPD to issue an alert after a hit and run, similar to an Amber Alert.  

Levin, who lives in Greenpoint, said, “For somebody to exhibit the kind of carelessness that resulted in Neftaly’s death with their truck, but to leave the scene … is unconscionable and against the basic principles of decency. To leave someone lying in the street, suffering, dying … This young man had a bright future, friends, people who loved him.”

As the councilmembers spoke, trucks of all sizes rumbled noisily through the intersection.  Levin said that Franklin Street, where the crash occurred, is “not a wide street, and you have trucks, garbage trucks, cyclists, all forced along a very narrow passageway. We need DOT to look at how to make this street safer. “

Treyger spoke of the tragic death of Tello, “a normal teenager, a great student who attended the school I taught at before I become a councilman.  I spoke to his teachers. He was … a respectful kid, always willing to help others, and on that dreadful afternoon, coming home from work to support himself and his family, killed by a hit-and-run driver.  It is heartless, it is inhumane, it is criminal.” 

White said he had heard officers “make excuses for the driver,” speculating that perhaps he didn’t see the bicyclist.  

“We know that’s not possible. When you strike someone, when you run someone over … you know that you did something wrong and you must stop. We ask the NYPD to stop playing criminal defense attorney for these kinds of reckless drivers and do their job to bring these drivers to justice,” White said.  

White and Levin also called for a protected bike lane on Franklin Street. 

“Kent Avenue, which turns into Franklin Street, has had a protected bike lane for 10 years and it’s a remarkably safe lane,” Levin said. 


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