Kensington

Family of pedestrian killed at dangerous Church Avenue intersection demand city action

“We can’t keep waiting for another death to happen for people to do their jobs.”

August 9, 2019 Paul Frangipane and Kelly Mena
Ana Karen Porras, 13, daughter of María del Carmen Porras Hernández. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane

The family and friends of a single mother who was fatally struck by a car one month ago gathered Thursday night where she was killed, calling on the city to fix the traffic-cluttered intersection before another death occurs.

María del Carmen Porras Hernández, 49, was crossing an intersection on July 8 when she was hit by a car driven by 63-year-old Claudette Crosby, who was driving west on Church Avenue and made a right onto Coney Island Avenue — where she struck Porras Hernández, who was on the crosswalk.

Crosby was charged with failure to yield to pedestrian and failure to exercise due care.

Dozens of family members and friends of María del Carmen Porras Hernández gathered at the corner of Coney Island and Church avenues. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane
Dozens of family members and friends of María del Carmen Porras Hernández gathered at the corner of Coney Island and Church avenues. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane

The single mother left behind her 13-year-old daughter, Ana Karen Porras, who is being taken care of by her aunt, Laura Porras Hernández.

“I wouldn’t imagine — and I don’t want to imagine — another child going through what I’m going through right now,” Ana Karen Porras said. “So it’s important to make the change, because if we don’t raise our voice, no one else will.”

Church Avenue has long had a history of pedestrian fatalities and injuries. The corridor is a main commercial strip in the neighborhood with many delivery trucks and businesses stretching across the thoroughfare. So far this year, the intersection has been the site of two pedestrian injuries and a bicyclist injury, according to city records

María del Carmen Porras Hernández’s niece Dolores González. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane
María del Carmen Porras Hernández’s niece Dolores González. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane

Since Porras Hernández’ death, her family and neighbors have met at the deadly intersection in Kensington almost daily to urge passersby to sign a petition, calling on the city Department of Transportation to study the intersection and make safety changes. 

Dozens brought flowers and signs to the intersection Thursday night to commemorate the one-month anniversary of her death.

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Dolores González, Porras Hernández’s niece, teared-up in front of the crowd, saying she keeps expecting her aunt to walk through the door. 

“We need to fix these streets, we need to make them safer … this is a tragedy,” González said. “Even with all the grief and coming here all the time and thinking of how she passed, we have to do something about it — and the city needs to be aware that they’re the ones that have to do something.”

Ana Karen Porras, 13, at a memorial for her mother María del Carmen Porras Hernández, who was fatally struck by a car on July 8. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane
Ana Karen Porras. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane

The family has collected around 500 signatures to their petition and is calling for DOT to install protective barriers for pedestrians, speed cameras and better signage in the area, according to González.

The intersection has already been targeted as a Priority Corridor as part of an updated city Pedestrian Safety Plan under Vision Zero. According to the plan, “the city identified the locations where pedestrian deaths and severe injuries are most concentrated,” and will look to make safety improvements over the next three years. 

Safe streets advocates showed up to support and call on DOT to fix the traffic-filled intersection. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane
Safe streets advocates showed up to support and call on DOT to fix the traffic-filled intersection.
Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane

“We can’t come out here again for somebody else’s mom or somebody else’s child or somebody else’s grandmother,” said City Council member Brad Lander. “The thought that we might have to do it again, unless we make this intersection safer — it’s up to us to push.”

Lander said the family is planning to meet with DOT next week to discuss changes to the intersection.

The intersection of Coney Island and Church avenues in Kensington. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane
The intersection of Coney Island and Church avenues in Kensington.
Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane

“We are continuing to look at potential safety measures for this intersection,” DOT spokesperson Alana Morales told the Eagle.

Ana Karen Porras hopes that by pushing the city to increase safety in the area, her mother’s death can help prevent similar tragedies. “We can’t keep waiting for another death to happen for people to do their jobs.”

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  1. Francesca Tate

    This is my neck of the woods. I’ve had to cross the Coney Island/Church Ave. intersection many times to catch buses, and as a pedestrian I find this corner treacherous. One of the things we can do is post “no turn on red” signs throughout NYC. Although the law already prohibits turns on red in most parts of the city (and thus DOT saw no need to post such signs), most truckers are through-drivers from other parts of NY or US where turns on red ARE PERMITTED–UNLESS a sign is posted. (And, I fear, even many New Yorkers are ignorant of that law.)