Pedestrian’s death forces DOT to take look at corner

March 10, 2020 Paula Katinas
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BAY RIDGE — In the wake of the death of a pedestrian who was struck and killed by a car at Fourth Avenue and 101st Street, the New York City Department of Transportation will be taking a close look at the intersection to determine if a re-design or a traffic light change is warranted, officials said.

A DOT spokesperson told the Home Reporter that the agency will be looking at the configuration of the street corner as well as the circumstances of the fatal crash in order to come up with ways to improve safety at the intersection.

The heavily-trafficked intersection where the crash took place is located a block away from the Belt Parkway’s Fourth Avenue exit and is right outside John Paul Jones Park, a popular recreation spot. A block away from the corner is the main entrance of the Fort Hamilton Army Base, at 101st Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway.

DOT routinely conducts an inspection of fatal crash sites with an eye toward reducing the risks of future serious accidents, according to the spokesperson, who said officials are deeply saddened by the death of the pedestrian.

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The victim, Frank Decolvenaere, 66, was crossing the street at approximately 7 p.m. on March 5 when he was struck by a 2011 Mercedes-Benz 350 sedan driven by a 19-year-old man.

Witnesses told police the driver was traveling at a high rate of speed, at least 50 miles an hour.

A Police Department spokesperson said a preliminary investigation by the Highway District’s Collision Investigation Squad determined that the Mercedes driver was heading southbound on Fourth Avenue and was approaching the intersection of 101st Street, while at the same time, the pedestrian was attempting to cross Fourth Avenue at 101st Street, from east to west.

The pedestrian was crossing against the light, according to police.

The driver remained at the scene. No arrests were made. Police did not release the name of the motorist.

Councilmember Justin Brannan, a Democrat representing Bay Ridge, questioned the initial findings and wondered aloud if the victim was being unfairly labeled as a jaywalker.

The NYPD “won’t say if speeding was a factor until their investigation is 100 percent complete. Fine, but they are free to say the victim was crossing against the light, definitively, five seconds after the incident?” Brannan wrote on Twitter on March 9.

“We really need to change how we think about human life in our city,” he added.

In addition to evaluating the corner of Fourth Avenue and 101st Street, DOT will continue its safety education and outreach programs, the spokesperson said. The agency sends experts to 600 schools and 100 senior citizen centers a year to discuss pedestrian safety.

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