76-year-old James Buzzell was struck and killed outside of his home near Union Square by the driver of a Freightliner truck who was attempting to back into a parking spot on the morning of Tuesday, May 21, 2019.
Buzzell was crossing the street at East 16th Street near Fifth Avenue when the truck driver hit him at around 9 a.m., according to NY Daily News. Buzzell was attempting to reach his car, which was parked right across the street, to do morning errands when he was fatally struck, according to Khalif Darboe, the superintendent of the building where Buzzell lived.
When emergency services arrived on the scene, they found Buzzell lying unconscious in the roadway, according to Patch. He was rushed to Bellevue Hospital with severe chest trauma, where he sadly succumbed to his injuries.
The driver of the truck stayed at the scene but has not been arrested or charged with anything at this time. The NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad is investigating the incident.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones of James Buzzell.
2019 has been a bloody year for New York City. Buzzell is already the 70th traffic fatality this year, a 20.7% increase over the same time frame last year, according to NYPD statistics. It is disturbing to see traffic fatalities trending upwards, considering that the citywide Vision Zero safety initiative launched in 2014 with the goal of ending traffic fatalities and protecting “the most vulnerable road users – pedestrians.”
It is also noteworthy that this fatal accident occurred while the truck driver was going in reverse, sometimes referred to as a “backover accident.” Driving in reverse presents unique hazards because it compromises a motorists’ line of sight and increases the difficulty of skillfully maneuvering a vehicle, particularly if a motorist is not skilled or is simply not paying attention.
Backover accidents cause roughly 300 fatalities and 18,000 injuries every year, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The data further indicates that heavy trucks are the cause of roughly 17% of backover fatalities but only 5-6% of injuries, indicating how much more severe backover accidents caused by trucks can be compared to those caused by passenger vehicles.
Driving any vehicle is the most dangerous thing most people will ever do, and motorists need to take that responsibility seriously. Due to the weight of heavy trucks, truck drivers have an added responsibility to operate their vehicle safely. When they don’t, vulnerable road users such as pedestrians or cyclists can be severely injured or even killed.
Hopefully, the NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad is able to uncover the full circumstances surrounding this tragedy so that the friends and family of James Buzzell can receive some small measure of justice for the suffering they are enduring. Although charges have surprisingly not been filed, motorists need to recognize that there will be consequences when they do not operate their vehicle safely.
The attorneys of Block O’Toole & Murphy have a proven record of successfully litigating wrongful death accidents caused by heavy commercial trucks, such as this $5,000,000 settlement for the family of a woman who was killed by a garbage truck while walking in Manhattan. Call 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form to receive a legal consultation.