Pedestrian deaths raise alarm bells for Bensonhurst officials

June 12, 2019 Paula Katinas
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It’s getting dangerous out there.

The death of a 64-year-old man who was struck by a car on Cropsey Avenue on June 9 is raising concerns among neighborhood officials about street safety.

The victim, Faquan Li, was crossing the street at the intersection of Cropsey and 16th avenues at around 4 p.m. when he was hit by a 2016 GMC Yukon driven by 47-year-old Kamil Aldawaliby, police said. Li was rushed to NYU Langone Hospital- Brooklyn, where he later died.

“It was very sad. And there have been other incidents as well,” said Laurie Windsor, chairperson of Community Board 11’s Transportation Committee.

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The neighborhood is still mourning the death last month of Emur Shavkator, a three-year-old boy who was struck and killed by a van at Cropsey Avenue and Bay 25th Street. The child was riding a small scooter when he was hit, police said.

DOT plans to install a traffic light at the corner where little Emur was killed.

“DOT takes every fatality on our roadways seriously, and has a proactive program of redesigning streets to reduce tragedies like this one. As with all locations where a fatal crash occurs, DOT evaluates the design of the street and the circumstances of the crash in order to improve the safety of that location,” a DOT spokesperson told the Home Reporter in an email. 

In another incident, which wasn’t deadly but led to serious injuries, a truck driver allegedly mounted the sidewalk at 86th Street and Bay 34th Street, crashed into a Malaysian restaurant and then smashed into a pillar of the D train el. Two people were injured in the bizarre crash.

Earlier this year, a spate of fatal car crashes, including the death of a 77-year-old woman on Bay 32nd Street on Jan. 3, led Board 11 officials to ask the Department of Transportation to come into the community to conduct an outreach effort to teach drivers and pedestrians about street safety.

Board 11 District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia said DOT gave detailed presentations at the Federation of Italian-Americans Organizations of Brooklyn and the Chinese American Social Services Center focusing on driver awareness and offering safety tips to pedestrians.

“We would be willing to do it again. If there is a community organization that wants to host the DOT, we would bring them together,” she told the Home Reporter on Tuesday.

Board 11 covers parts of Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Mapleton and Gravesend.

“There has been an increase in pedestrian deaths in our area,” Elias-Pavia said.

“I have the feeling that things are out of control out there,” Windsor said.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why these crashes are happening, according to Windsor.

“I don’t think it’s just one thing. In some cases, the driver is speeding. But there are also cases where the pedestrian jumps out from between two parked cars. It does seem to me that people have no regard traffic laws anymore. People go through red lights all the time,” Windsor said.

DOT has had Board 11 in its sights before. Sections of Bath Beach and Bensonhurst fall under the agency’s Safe Streets for Seniors program. Under Safe Streets for Seniors, DOT experts take a close look at areas with large population of senior citizens, studying crash data and looking at factors contributing to potentially unsafe conditions for older pedestrians.

If DOT finds that action is needed, the agency develops senior-friendly safety improvements like adjusting pedestrian signals to give people more time to get across the street, installing pedestrian safety islands in the middle of the street and erecting new signage.

Under the program, DOT works in partnership with the city’s Department for the Aging to conduct public outreach to senior citizens.

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