Southern Brooklyn

Dyker Heights tragedy heightens focus on unsafe streets

August 25, 2021 Jaime DeJesus
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6-year-old girl killed by car on 67th Street, driver arrested

A 30-year-old man has been charged in the death of a 6-year-old girl who was run down on a Dyker Heights street on Aug. 24 — an accident that prompted sadness and outrage both in the neighborhood and in the city as a whole.

Cops said Qiuhua Zhu, a Sunset Park resident, was driving a 2017 Lexus GX460 on 12th Avenue at 8 p.m. when he crossed into oncoming traffic. He then drove south, made a left turn on 67th Street and hit Hiromi Tamy as she crossed east with the pedestrian signal in her favor.

Tamy was pronounced dead at Maimonides Medical Center.

Zhu remained at the scene during an investigation by the NYPD Highway District’s Collision Investigation Squad. He was arrested and charged with criminally negligent homicide, vehicular assault, reckless endangerment, motor vehicle failure to yield to a pedestrian, failure to obey traffic device, driving in the wrong direction on a one-way street and improper left turn on a one-way road.

State Sen, Andrew Gounardes and Councilmember Justin Brannan, both of whom represent the neighborhood, released a joint statement expressing their sadness on the death of the girl.

“Unfortunately, Hiromi’s loss serves as yet another reminder that we must take measures to protect New Yorkers from the epidemic of traffic violence in our city, and meet this occasion head-on by advancing meaningful legislation to address these preventable public health crises,” the statement read. “This out-of-control SUV driver failed to obey a traffic device, drove the wrong direction on a one-way, and made an improper left turn. We can’t afford to give these perpetrators a pass, which is why we need to reform the way we hold reckless drivers who kill or injure others fully accountable.”

They added that there must be lower speed limits that meet particular neighborhoods’ safety needs, and urged legislators to pass legislation such as the Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act.

The act, which actually is a package of eight bills in Albany, would take aggressive action against dangerous driving and would support the families of crash victims.

“We run the risk of facing similar tragedies again,” they added.

Dana Lerner, a member of Families for Safe Streets, a group of New Yorkers who have come together after losing loved ones or being injured in traffic crashes, also discussed the situation.

Her son was killed in a crosswalk by a taxi driver who failed to yield.

“We need Mayor de Blasio and our future mayor to fulfill the promises of Vision Zero,” she said. “Police enforcement will not get New York City to Vision Zero.”

She added that opening streets to people, scaling proven safety measures across every corner of our city, and prioritizing human life over driver’s convenience, is the solution to safer streets.

As for de Blasio himself, he issued a statement saying, “I feel horrible that another family is suffering. And so much of this comes down to changing the whole mindset around cars. This is what we’ve been doing for eight years with Vision Zero, and we all have to do a lot more. People need to use the cars less, people need to drive more carefully.”

Streetsblog, a blog dedicated to street safety and sustainable transportation, said, quoting Department of Transportation statistics, that “as of July 19, at least 137 people have died because of motorists on city streets so far this year. It’s the most fatalities since 2013, when 135 died in traffic violence over the same time period.”

—Additional material by Raanan Geberer

Note: Story has been updated with additional information.

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