Upper West Side residents gathered to remember lives lost, to mourn and to demand action to make their streets safer for pedestrians. The vigil was held on the Upper West Side days after the tragedies of January 10, when two lives were lost, just half an hour apart in separate, tragic pedestrian accidents.
The first was Alex Shear, a 73-year-old resident and well-known collector (nicknamed “The Sultan of Stuff” in a 1999 New Yorker profile). Around 8:15 p.m., Mr. Shear was fatally struck by a tour bus at 96th Street and Broadway. The bus dragged Mr. Shear almost a block before it was flagged down by a witness. No charges have been filed against the driver.
The second was Cooper Stock, who was only nine years old. Around 8:45 p.m., Cooper was fatally struck by a taxi at 97th Street and West End. Cooper was holding his father’s hand. They were walking in the crosswalk, with a walk signal in their favor when the taxi, which was making a left turn, struck and killed Cooper. The driver was issued a traffic citation for “failure to yield to a pedestrian.”
Cooper Stock was struck and killed right outside the building he lived in with his family. Another resident of the building, Julie Dermer spoke at the vigil about the Stock family and the effect of the tragedy on the whole community.
“Shock and sadness, which has really taken over the building and the neighborhood, has now turned to rage,” Ms. Dermer said of learning that the dangerous nature of the intersection had prompted “letters and reports that have been sent to our local officials since as early as 2008” and that “The response has been, quote: ‘We’ll study it.” In 2008, a citizens’ group called the Upper West Side Streets Renaissance (UWSSR), with transportation consulting firm NelsonNygaard Consulting Associates, published a 51-page document with “improving pedestrian safety” topping their long list of goals for the area. The document included separate renderings of the 96th and 97th Street intersections-where Mr. Shear and Cooper Stock were killed in 2014. In 2010, a second set of plans focusing exclusively on 95th, 96th and 97th Streets were presented to the Community Board, according to UWSSR member Lisa Sladkus.
On January 17, following the vigil for the deaths of Mr. Shear and Cooper Stock, the Community Board sent a letter to the NYC Department of Transportation requesting changes to Broadway and 96th Street and West End and 97th Street.
On January 19, sadly, another pedestrian was killed at 96th Street between Broadway and West End. Samantha Lee, a 26-year-old resident in the anesthesiology department at Columbia University Hospital, was struck by an ambulance and throw into the opposite lanes where she was run over by another vehicle.
On January 30, the Community Board met to discuss pedestrian safety improvements, specifically focusing on 96th Street. The Board announced that the traffic signal at West End had been adjusted to give pedestrians an additional six seconds to cross. The Board also announced future plans to “daylight” the West End intersection (remove parking spaces to increase visibility) and to ban two kinds of left turns and install a new crosswalk at the Broadway intersection. Community Board chair Elizabeth Caputo also added that she is hopeful the NYC Department of Transportation will also implement other suggestions in a report submitted to the Board in late 2013 by NelsonNygaard following their latest study of the area last summer.
For the UWS community, there may be hope that the streets will become safer for the future, but there is continued sadness and mourning for the victims of these recent pedestrian accidents. The aftermath of these horrifying accidents are even more devastating, painful and frustrating to the families of the victims. Despite the shellshock, it is important to act quickly-contacting an experienced attorney early helps protect victims’ rights and their future.
Block O’Toole & Murphy has unparalleled experience and expertise, including a $32,756,156 verdict, a $12,000,000 settlement and a $8,800,000 settlement on behalf of pedestrian accident victims. These committed and experienced lawyers work hard to ensure they recover to the fullest extent possible under the law. The Pedestrian Accident Lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy, LLP are available for a free consultation – at (212) 736-5300. You can also learn more about the firm by visiting the firm’s website at – www.blockotoole.com.
Source: Village Voice