Pedro Tepozteco, 26, was riding his bike on 47th Avenue, a one-way street in Borough Park, Brooklyn, when the 29-year-old driver of a box truck attempted to pass him. Tragically, the cyclist was run over and pronounced dead at Maimondes Hospital on Wednesday, April 17, 2019.
The exact nature of how this accident occurred is not clear. The NYPD has already released a statement, however, saying that “the bicyclist fell into the side of the truck,” according to multiple news outlets.
While an investigation is presumably ongoing, it is incredibly distressing to hear authorities blame the victim so soon after he was killed. Gothamist reports that investigators have not revealed whether they were able to view surveillance video or speak to witnesses to corroborate their conclusion. The police were unable to get Mr. Tepozteco’s version of events. The investigation appears to be confined to what the box truck driver, obviously someone who has a vested interest in how the investigation unfolds, shared with the police.
So how is it police are already willing to publicly blame Pedro Tepozteco for his own death?
This is a pressing question not just for the loved ones of Tepozteco, but for New Yorkers everywhere. Tepozteco is already the 7th person to be killed while riding a bike in New York City this year, yet only one of those drivers was charged with a crime. For context, 10 cyclists in NYC were killed in traffic accidents in all of 2018.
At what point are police going to hold drivers accountable for driving behavior that takes somebody’s life away from them?
This is not just a question about cyclist safety, either. So far in 2019, 58 people have been killed in traffic accidents in New York City, a shocking 41.5% increase from the same time period in 2018.
At some point, there needs to be penalties for New York motorists who take the life of a pedestrian or cyclist. When there are no charges filed, and worse yet, police go on public record blaming the victim for causing the accident which claimed their life, without a detailed investigation, what kind of message does that send?
In the case of Pedro Tepozteco, he was biking on a one-way street when the driver of the box truck allegedly tried to pass him. By blaming Tepozteco for being run over, does that not send the message that it’s okay for New York motorists to engage in dangerous driving behavior just to shave a few minutes off their time on the road?
There is apparently an investigation still ongoing, and we hope that a more satisfying conclusion can be reached than what has so far been publicly released. Even though charges will not be able to undo the trauma caused by Tepozteco’s death, it will at least provide a modicum of justice in an otherwise senseless incident.
At Block O’Toole & Murphy, we have litigated numerous bike accidents and wrongful death cases, providing compensation that the families need and deserve. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a biking accident, call us at 212-736-5300 to receive a free, no-obligation legal consultation.