Bath Beach

Mourners hold vigil on Bath Beach corner where toddler was killed

May 7, 2019 Paula Katinas
Jane Martin-Lavaud, a member of Families for Safe Streets, whose daughter was killed by a reckless driver in 2013. Eagle photo by Arthur de Gaeta
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Bath Beach residents and local elected officials held a vigil in the rain on Sunday on the street corner where a 3-year-old boy riding his scooter was killed by a van driver last week.

The participants didn’t let a steady rain stop them from paying tribute to Emur Shavkator, the toddler who was struck and killed by a van at the intersection of Benson Avenue and Bay 25th Street on Thursday. The driver, Johnny Gonzalez, was charged with failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care.

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Assemblymember Bill Colton and Councilmember Mark Treyger were among those who attended the brief vigil. Amy Cohen, founder of Families for Safe Streets, the grassroots organization composed of relatives of people killed by motor vehicles, also took part in the remembrance.

Cohen’s 12-year-old son Samuel Eckstein was struck by a car and killed on Prospect Park West in 2012.

The lawmakers demanded that the New York City Department of Transportation install a traffic light at the deadly intersection.

DOT “must make Benson Avenue and Bay 25th Street safe. They also must examine all streets in the vicinity of it to ensure changes made to these streets do not foster traffic violence on those streets. The principles of safe street design must govern all streets, especially when some improvements are made. I demand a traffic light be installed at the intersection of Benson Avenue and Bay 25th Street and I will continue to fight for safer streets in the community,” Colton said in a statement issued after the vigil.

Gounardes and Treyger wrote about the vigil on Twitter, calling for safety measures on streets.

“We need more traffic calming measures to ensure our streets are safe for our children, families and seniors,” Treyger tweeted.

Gounardes, who charged that Emur’s death was “100 percent preventable,” also called on drivers to be more careful on the streets. “Yes we need enforcement [and] stop lights [and] road redesigns. Be part of the solution: Drive like YOUR child lives on every street,” he tweeted.

A spokesperson for DOT said the agency is planning to take a look at the corner where the boy was killed.

“DOT is looking into potential safety enhancements here, and we will also be opening a new signal study,” the spokesperson said in an email the day after the crash.

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