Marching from the street where Sammy Cohen-Eckstein was killed in 2013 to the place where Abigail Blumenstein & Joshua Lew were killed this week will not be easy.
Still, I hope you’ll join Sammy’s mom—I’m forwarding her note inviting us below—me, and hundreds of others on Monday evening to weep for their loss, and to march in their memory.
We will gather at Prospect Park West and 9th Street at 6 p.m. We will be led by our kids. We will be marching for their safety, and all of ours. We will be marching to end reckless driving, the speeding and running-red-lights and failing-to-yield that values a few seconds convenience over the very lives of our neighbors. We will be marching for intersection & street re-designs and protected bike lanes in every neighborhood. We will be marching for a city where the lives of our children count for more than the speed of our traffic.
I also wanted to give you a few updates since I wrote on Tuesday evening:
- NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg committed at Thursday’s City Council budget hearing to redesign 9th Street to make it safer. She has directed her team to analyze & redesign the 9th Street corridor, including protected bike lanes and other safety treatments. She committed to unveil a detailed plan in the next few weeks & present it to the community. Of course we wish it had not taken this horrific fatality to make this change. We’ll never know if it could have protected Abby & Josh from this deadly reckless driving. Still, amidst this tragedy-beyond-understanding, I am grateful for this fast action to move forward now.
- As a result of our advocacy, Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez, the NYPD Collision Investigation Squad, and the NYS DMV worked together to have the driver’s license suspended. From what I know currently, based on the horrific driving record of her car & what she is reported to have said about her health, it should have been suspended long ago. The NYPD and the DA are completing their investigation with the urgency that we should expect (which, sadly, is not always the case). Our laws for driver accountability are, sadly, very weak – but I expect them to bring charges for this horror and to do all they can for justice for Abigail and Josh. I’ll stay in close touch with the DA and NYPD and report back to you.
- I’ve started working together with some experts toward a “CompStat for reckless drivers.” We can do so much more to identify & reach out to reckless drivers. For early-stage/minor violations, we should take a restorative justice approach (like the “Driver Accountability Program” that I helped establish at the Red Hook Community Justice Center, which we’ll have more to say about soon) that helps people reconsider their driving and change their behavior. For those with so many violations that their driving shows a depraved indifference to the safety of their neighbors (as I believe this one does), we should take away their license before they kill someone. Driving is a privilege, not a right.
- For neighbors of the intersection of Church Avenue & Ocean Parkway: I’ve also talked to NYC DOT and the NYPD multiple times this week about the tragic crash that killed Faustino Garcia two weeks ago, and what we must do to make this intersection safer. I expect to have a report from the NYPD Collision Investigation Squad in the coming days. Getting a proposal for changes here is going to take just a little longer, because NYC DOT has to work with NYS DOT (the Prospect Expressway is a State highway, so the intersection is under shared jurisdiction). But I expect them to have something ready to present to the community in the coming weeks – we must make the changes necessary to stop this from being an intersection of death.
- So many of you have written to me since Monday about dangerous intersections near your home or schools. You were frightened about them before, and you are understandably terrified now. I take every one seriously – like it’s the corner where my kids and I live. We will be following up with DOT in the coming weeks, and trying to get answers on each one. It’s a long list, and we’re just one of 51 districts. So I’m pushing with my colleagues for more money so DOT can do many more, and faster. We will try to get back to each of you with updates.
- In some genuinely good news: Ruthie Ann Miles (Abigail’s mom, who is pregnant, and was also hit and seriously injured, and happens to be a Tony Award-winning actress and by all accounts a beautiful & generous person) is out of the ICU. It looks like she and her baby are going to be OK. She posted this note to Twitter:
“Thank you for your prayers over our families and holding us in our pain. Please continue to pray for the Lew and the Blumenstein families as we process the unthinkable and lay our grief in the loving arms of Jesus. Joshua and Abigail are now resting in Heavenly peace and Joy.”
We will, of course, continue to hold these families so deeply in our broken hearts.
I hope to see many of you Monday evening. Here’s Amy Cohen’s note inviting us:
From: Amy Cohen, Families for Safe Streets
Date: March 7, 2018 at 3:12:22 PM EST
Subject: For Kevin, Abigail, and Joshua: NYC March for Safe Streets
A horrific crash just killed two children in my neighborhood. As a parent, and a New Yorker, I am furious and devastated. Will you march with me on Monday?
This is a family-friendly march, and children will lead the way. We will gather at 9th Street and Prospect Park West, and march to the crash site at 5th Avenue. All are welcome. Please, if you can, bring flowers.
Just a few days ago, Joshua Lew and Abigail Blumenstein, aged 1 and 4, were killed by a woman who drove her car through a red light in Brooklyn. Five weeks before that, a man drove an oil truck without a license and killed another child in Brooklyn: Kevin Flores, age 13.
We know that unsafe streets are especially dangerous for children. And in New York City, traffic crashes are a leading cause of death for kids. Three children killed already this year—how many more have to die?
I am marching to demand truly safe streets and because I want to live in a city where crosswalks are not war zones. I am also marching for my son, Sammy, who was killed by a speeding driver in Park Slope.
What will you march for?
Families for Safe Streets